The region is observing Caribbean Tourism Month in November amid the “significant” economic impact caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Lesser Antilles last month.
Secretary General of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, said that the regional tourism sector in 2017 can be described as a “tale of two situations” as a result of the Category 5 hurricanes that devastated countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St Martin and to a lesser extent the Bahamas and St Kitts-Nevis.
Riley said that during the first half of this year, the region performed at new record pace, welcoming 16.6 million international tourist arrivals at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent, when compared to the same period last year.
However, following the passage of the hurricanes, growth was severely impacted with the revised forecast for 2017 now at one to two per cent, down from 2.5 to 3.5 per cent.
“The economic impact of the storms is significant. The Caribbean Development Bank predicts that every one per cent reduction in tourist arrivals (based on 2015 travel data) will cost US$137 million in lost revenue.
“No doubt, the hurricanes have presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably,’ Riley said,
He said while the affected countries are at various stages on the road back to normality, it is also important to note that over 75 per cent of the region was unscathed by the storms.
“In this context, we encourage you to keep visiting the Caribbean, as this is the best way to help the region,” he said, noting that during Caribbean Tourism Month “we will focus on adventure, in keeping with the Year of Adventure.
“Mindful of the impact of the storms, there are still countless travel adventures to be had this month and for the remainder of the year. We look forward to hearing of the various events and activities planned for the month, and with your permission, we will share your information and images. “
He said the month also provides an opportunity to reiterate the message that “we are open for business and we do have an exciting product to offer.
“Yes, some challenges remain and those are being addressed, but let’s also emphasise the superb experiences we can offer to guests right now and help them and their companions have a Caribbean adventure to remember.
“Together, let’s keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean,” Riley added.
Source: Jamaica Observer