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The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has assessed 2022 as an encouraging year for regional tourism.
But in a New Year message, the organisation noted the lack of intra-regional connectivity among the existing challenges.
“The year 2022 and especially the second half of the year has been a very encouraging one for Caribbean tourism,” CTO acting Secretary General Neil Walters disclosed.
“While we are still seeing elements of the effect of the pandemic on international travel, here in the Caribbean, we have noted a much more consistent pattern of travel which is a good indicator of a return to normalcy and a path to 2019 levels,” Walters said.
According to the CTO, in 2022, the Caribbean was among the fastest-recovering regions globally.
The regional organisation said the Caribbean would have reclaimed between 85.0% and 90.0% of total arrivals in 2019.
And it noted that some individual destinations surpassed their 2019 levels with record-breaking performances, while others are approaching the benchmark levels of 2019 and are expected to equal or exceed these levels in 2023.
However, it would take longer for a few destinations to reach pre-pandemic levels.
The CTO observed that this speaks to the tourism sector’s resilience, noting the regional source markets’ unprecedented airlift into the region and the evident recovery in land and cruise tourism.
Nevertheless, the tourism body pointed to continuing challenges compounding the latent effects of the pandemic and evolving into new challenges for the tourism sector and Caribbean economies in general.
“Thus far, we have been able to ride out the supply chain issues, the political unrest existing in some regions of the world and the economic unrest which seems to be forever looming in our key source markets,” the CTO stated.
In addition, the CTO pointed to the acute effect of the lack of intra-regional connectivity, especially in the Central, Southern, and Eastern Caribbean.
It observed that in these sub-regions, several member countries depended on intra- regional travel in the pre-pandemic era as one of their key source markets.
“Our aim in 2023 is to create mechanisms to ensure that the Caribbean remains in the top 5 of the fastest growing tourism regions,” the CTO asserted.
It acknowledged that most of the organisation’s efforts have focused on traditional markets, resulting in a significant recovery.
But the CTO said it recognised that even within and abounding traditional source markets, there are untapped markets ripe for growth, including the non-traditional markets outside of the USA, UK, and Europe.