The Caribbean 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 Organization (CTO), Hugh Riley, said that the regional tourism sector in 2017 can be described as a “tale of two situations” because of the Category 5 hurricanes that devastated several countries.
Record pace performance before storms
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.
Severely impacted after storms
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.
Major challenges presented
“No doubt, the hurricanes have presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably,’ Riley said. He also 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.
Still open for business
Riley also said this month 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 emphasize 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.
For more on Caribbean Tourism, click the link: Caribbean Tourism Organization calls for US/Caribbean alliance