The Caribbean region reported record tourism last year, and prospects look sunny for 2005 thanks to a robust U.S. economy and strong European currencies that cuts costs for visitors from the Old World. But funding for new hotels remains a serious challenge, said the Puerto Rico-based Caribbean Hotel Association.
“Banks will typically lend only up to 50 percent to 60 percent of the value of the property and for a short period of time - usually no longer than 10 years,” said Alex Titcombe, who leads advocacy and research for the hotel group.
To address the problem, the association has asked British consultancy Capital Representatives to look into the feasibility of a Regional Tourism Investment Fund to be made up of banks and other financiers.
Results of the report are to be presented at a regional tourism conference slated for Barbados next week.
In other tourism news from the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism dependent region and a favourite holiday and investment spot for South Floridians:
British Virgin Islands resort set: Tampa-based Mainsail Development Group Inc. plans a US$45 million resort project on the 230-acre Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.
Plans call for a 90-room boutique resort and spa, 100-slip marina, and private residences. The first villas are to be built this spring, with the project slated for completion by 2008.
For more information, check www.MainSailBVI.com.
Turks & Caicos resort opens: The Palms, a US$85 million luxury resort on Providenciales, opened this winter, offering 72 suites in low-rise coral stone buildings.
Winter rates per night range from US$750 up to $7,000 for a three-bedroom oceanfront penthouse with butler and chauffeur, the company announced.
St. Kitts-Nevis buoyant: St. Kitts-Nevis in the eastern Caribbean posted more than 4 percent economic growth last year, spurred by a jump in hotel and cruise tourism.
Mid-term prospects also look strong based on investors’ plans for at least three more hotels, two golf courses, and a marina in the nation of roughly 40,000 residents, said Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.
Caribbean hotel conference set for Miami: The annual Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference, known as CHIC, will be held the first time outside the Caribbean this year - at the Hyatt Regency Miami from June 26 to 29. “Miami is the industry’s buying capital, and it enjoys great access from Caribbean destinations, which makes it convenient and affordable for Caribbean hoteliers and suppliers to attend,” said Barbadian hotelier Peter Odle, a Caribbean Hotel Association vice president and chairman of the CHIC planning committee.
Conference sessions will look at such issues as international benchmarking and refurbishing on a dime. A trade show will feature a model high-tech hotel room and a model “green,” or environmentally friendly, hotel. The event also will feature 10 teams of Caribbean chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders at the regional culinary competition Taste of the Caribbean, plus an awards ceremony.
For information or go to www.cha-chic.org.
From the pages of Travel Wire News.