- The Caribbean region's tourism growth potential in 2017 and beyond is enormous, but not without continued collaborative partnerships between the region's public and private sectors.
Delivering the opening address of Caribbean Travel Marketplace at Atlantis Paradise Island in The Bahamas yesterday evening, Karolin Troubetzkoy, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), described 2016 as a year of mixed blessings for the industry, and asserted that the regional private sector organization was resolved to continue answering the call from Bahamas' Prime Minister Perry Christie for greater collaboration across the region's key partners.
"Last year, you issued a challenge to CHTA, CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization), and groups like CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to work together to fully realize the potential which tourism holds for our economies and our people," Troubetzkoy told Prime Minister Christie, who also addressed the gathering this year. "Prime Minister, I am pleased to tell you that CHTA and CTO have answered your call, and are advancing initiatives which we believe can help make our region and our industry realize its full tourism potential," she added.
Reporting overall growth in visitor arrivals to the Caribbean, the St. Lucia hotelier of the storied Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet resorts said tourism was challenged with forces that tested the region's fortitude. "From an unusually warm winter in some originating markets, a weak Canadian currency, Brexit, travel patterns affected by the Olympic Games, U.S. elections and political uncertainty around the globe to Zika and finally to our most unwanted visitor, Hurricane Matthew," she observed.
Reflecting on the impact of Hurricane Matthew on parts of Haiti and The Bahamas, she thanked regional hoteliers for participating in an online auction which yielded US$70,000, $25,000 of which was presented to The Bahamas and $45,000 to Haiti for restoration efforts.
2017 has been designated by the Caribbean Tourism Organization as the Year of Adventure and the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. "Adventure and sustainability well-define much of our appeal, and well-reflect the shifts we've been seeing in why people travel and what they are looking for...as the caretakers and marketers of this global treasure that we call the Caribbean, we have not only the mandate to showcase it to the world but also to ensure it is protected, enhanced and sustained," she said.
"That's why issues like climate change, the development of our people, and the preservation of our natural, cultural and historical resources are intertwined with our marketing and indeed our marketability," she continued.
Marketing, she affirmed, ought to embrace new and changing technologies to reach customers in addition to the changing visitor interests and expectations.
Caribbean Travel Marketplace has attracted an estimated 1,000 registrants with a record number of new buyers joining tourism stakeholders on Paradise Island this week.
Caribbean Travel Marketplace, produced by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, is hosted by The Islands of The Bahamas / Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, Interval International, jetBlue Vacations, MasterCard and Sandals. Platinum Sponsors include AMResorts, Bonnier Corporation, C&W Business Solutions, Caribbean Wellness and Education, Marketplace Excellence Corporation, OBMI, Sojern, STR, Tambourine, TravelClick and Travelzoo. Adara, Alliance Connection, ARDA-ROC , Brides, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Condé Nast Traveler, Delta Air Lines, Figment Design, Local Measure, Northstar Meetings Group, Prevue, Questex Travel Group, Recommend, RoomKnights, Simpleview, SiteMinder, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., TravAlliance Media, Travel Agent Academy, Travel Channel, Travel Pulse, TripAdvisor, and TripMate have joined the event as gold sponsors, while Grupo BT Brands Travel and Travel Trade Exchange have signed on as media sponsors.
Photo: A young member of the Colours Junkanoo Group celebrates the spirit of The Bahamas during the opening of Caribbean Travel Marketplace at Atlantis Paradise Island. From left are Karolin Troubetzkoy, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), and Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie.