The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) said it remains hopeful about the continued rebound of tourism in the region, even in the face of the uncertainty caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and its latest wave of the Omicron variant.
The entity said that while the past 18 months for the industry has been plagued by closures, updated travel protocols and emerging variants, Caribbean destinations have shown their resilience in creating strategies for recovery.
“The year 2021 has given us an indication that there is light at the end of what has been a long tunnel which began in March 2020. By mid-2021, we saw a turnaround in tourism activity, with the Caribbean exceeding the global average for stayover arrival growth and tourism's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). During the third quarter of 2021, there were 5.4 million tourist arrivals to the region, almost three times the arrivals for the same period in 2020, but still 23.3 per cent below 2019 levels,” the Barbados-based entity stated, noting preliminary reports which already indicated tourist arrivals last year exceeding that of the prior year by as much as 70 per cent.
“As we begin 2022, once again grappling with the effects of a new variant which is also affecting international travel adversely, we are heartened by the recovery experiences and the lessons learnt in 2021,” the regional tourism body further said.
The CTO said that with 2022 being observed as the year of wellness in the Caribbean, with a focus on renewal, destinations are now poised to welcome more visitors to their shores, as they come in search of the endless opportunities for rejuvenation that the region offers.
“Even as we work on our short-term strategies for recovery of the sector, we urge longer-term approaches to promote sectoral sustainability. Building on our 2021 World Tourism Day message, we encourage moving towards social inclusion and creating smart destinations based on smart businesses as key planks which will lead to sustainability,” the CTO also said.