SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC)— The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) says it is pleased at the response to the 40th edition of its Caribbean Travel Marketplace (CTM) as regional suppliers and global buyers return to in-person business development activities in the Caribbean since the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The Caribbean is still one of the world’s most desirable destinations and we are very pleased with the convergence of buyers and sellers of Caribbean tourism as the Caribbean continues to advance its post pandemic recovery,” said CTM chair, Karen Whitt.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Grieg told a news conference Tuesday that the Caribbean was recovering fast from the post pandemic period and was now ahead of every region in the world.
“We are moving from recovery to growth; something we should be proud of. We are now 15 per cent of every region in the world,” she said, adding that the Caribbean was also gaining momentum against Central America, which was also recovering from the pandemic and was now up six per cent.
“We are not losing ground but recovering even while others are also recovering, we are in the growth mode,” she said, noting that travel from the Americas was driving the strong performance of the Caribbean.
CHTA’s data partner, Forward Keys, reports that the Caribbean and Latin America are leading the summer outlook in terms of the return of leisure travel, noting that five destinations – Aruba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and The Bahamas – are among the “most resilient” based on confirmed arrivals for the summer.
The CTM is the region’s largest and longest-standing tourism marketing event and Whitt said more than 700 delegates are attending the event.
“We have representation from over 26 countries. We have new buyers registered from countries such as Latvia, Poland, Mexico and India,” said Whitt, who is also vice president of sales and marketing for the Hartling Group in Turks and Caicos.
“We have focused on attracting buyers from new locations, and they are delighted to be back at an event where all of the Caribbean have assembled in one location,” said Whitt, who explained that buyers of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) and destination wedding experiences are also participating.
Conference delegates are meeting buyers from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.
Suppliers have registered from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Eustatius, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Martin, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United States, and the United States Virgin Islands.
Whitt said that CHTA is well into the planning phase for the 2023 edition of Marketplace, which could be held in the second quarter or later, adding that the distinct buzz the trade association is witnessing this year and at this event is undoubtedly due to the pent-up demand for in-person, face-to-face interaction among buyers and sellers and consumer demand for travel experiences after two years of pandemic-related isolation and lockdowns.