by Marlon Madden
Some regional tourism officials are predicting a recovery of the sector by 2023 with a slow but regular growth in business travel.
President of Paulson Puerto Rico Hotels Peter Hopgood said while experts didn’t expect business travel to return to 2019 levels just yet, it has been showing signs of improvement over the past few months. He suggested that the slow growth on this area was in consequence of firms cutting back on trips attributable to exposure and safety concerns in addition to cost.
Hopgood said now that the Delta variant of the coronavirus was “somewhat higher controlled” in lots of countries, “we see the intent in business [travel] not only amongst individuals but in addition on the group side, so very optimistic 2022 and beyond”.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority Erin Smith said she believed that business travel will return to pre-COVID-19 levels when destinations are considered “protected” and by making protocols less cumbersome.
She said business travel up to now this 12 months in Bermuda was lower than 20 per cent of what it was as much as the tip of September 2019. “I believe what’s going to bring them back is making the destination protected but in addition making it easy for them to travel.
So by way of protocols, restrictions and travel forms, all of that should be convenient for a business traveller who is simply coming only one or two days. That may be a hindrance to them otherwise,” said Smith.
They made the comments during a recent Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) live chat seminar series. The subject was How do you Stack Up? Caribbean Hotel Performance Yr-to-Date and Insights for Winter 2022.
Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of Marketing and Operations with Anse Chastanet Resort and Jade Mountain Resort in St Lucia, said she believed the time had come for more concerted regional efforts to spice up tourism performance in coming months.
“When the pandemic began, we said recovery could be a “Nike shape” and in some instances now it is recommended recovery is not going to occur until 2024,” said Troubetzkoy.
“I believe with what we’ve got seen this 12 months I do think that recovery will take until 2023 but it’s going to also force the Caribbean to finally really address a regional marketing strategy because there might be a variety of destinations [with] exciting new products.
A number of the hotels I even have seen open everywhere in the world they’re stunning. So, I believe that we actually need to get our act together as a region,” she warned.
“I do know in crises, everybody tends to fight on their very own, but I believe the time has come again to say ‘we want to come back together and really have a look at the Caribbean regionally and do what it takes to be certain that we proceed to be some of the desirable regions on the earth for travel’,” she added.
In the course of the event it was revealed that of the participating hotels in the most recent survey showed that occupancy rate for the year-to-date, as much as the tip of September 2021, reached about 40.2 per cent, in comparison with the year-to-date information as much as September 2019, which averaged around 65 per cent.
Summer months are frequently the slowest months for tourism within the region. And this 12 months, some destinations experienced closure throughout the summer period in consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presenting the info, Rico Louw, Regional Sales Manager with STR – the hotel industry market data firm – identified that the occupancy levels in select markets within the Caribbean for the months of May, June, July, August and September this 12 months was uneven.
Nonetheless, pointing to the rise in occupancy levels in Barbados month on month throughout the measured period, Louw said “Barbados appeared to have passed through a summer of restrictions then occupancy has just grown in a special trend than the remainder of the market that we measured”.
Pointing to pent-up demand for travel amongst US residents, Louw said this was excellent news for the region, adding that with the UK also opening up its borders “that is great news for those islands like St Lucia, and Barbados”.