6th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference 2002 - Looking Back/Looking Forward

The Caribbean Opportunity Meets the Capital Markets

This event has grown to become the most important annual event for those interested in investing in one of the world`s most beautiful and exciting regions…the Caribbean. 
The conference has been designed to be a tripartite meeting between government, industry and the investment community, with the specific objectives of:  improving the tourism investment and operating climate across the region;  making the investment community aware of the development opportunities available in the Caribbean;  and stimulating a continuing flow of both equity and loan capital into the region.

CHTIC is reportedly the fifth largest hotel investment forum in the world.  Special features such as “Meet the Money” and “Meet the Opportunity” take deal-making to a new level at this conference.

At the conclusion of the 5th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC), a consensus was reached by all delegates that the Caribbean needs to focus its priorities on four issues - promotion of the region, safety and security, airlift, and investment and product renewal - which are vital to the region’s tourism industry.  The Conference, which was co-sponsored by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in conjunction with Burba Hotel Network (BHN), was held April 17 - 19, 2001 at the World Trade Center in Curaçao.

“Undoubtedly one of the main challenges of the Caribbean tourism industry is the marketing of the region as a single vacation destination,” said John Bell, director general and CEO of CHA.  “In an effort to promote and enhance the Caribbean’s position as the world’s leading warm weather tourism destination, CHA has developed a three-year multi-million dollar regional marketing program called ‘Great Places in the Caribbean,’ which will be unveiled at the Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference (CHIC 2001) in June,” he added.


Regarding Safety and Security, “One of our top priorities should be to fight crime in the region and Caribbean governments should adopt a zero tolerance policy towards crime,” said Jean Holder, secretary general of CTO. To address this important issue, CHA, in conjunction with the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH & RA), and the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), will host a Think Tank on Safety & Security in the Caribbean Hospitality Industry, May 3rd and 4th, 2001, in Trinidad.

Meanwhile, in terms of airlift to the region, delegates recognized that efforts must be made to change the current trend of the reduction of flights between Europe and the Caribbean.

Projections indicate that in the next decade tourism will have an annual growth rate of four percent while contributing 11.6 percent of the world’s GNP and generating more than 250 million jobs, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

“We are observing that world tourism is leaning towards adventure destinations, exotic destinations, and ecotourism destinations,” said one of the conference’s speaker Graham Wason, vice president of strategy and development of WTTC, while addressing delegates at the opening ceremony.

According to Wason, these new emerging destinations face great challenges such as enhancing the basic infrastructure (electric power, water, and roads) of the country.  In addition these countries must focus on training their people and becoming more creative when selling the destination.

In the past two decades, the number of hotel rooms in the Caribbean has increased from 84,000 to 232,000, with the recent inclusion of the Mexican Caribbean. This represents an annual growth rate of almost nine percent, four percent more than any other region in the world.  In the next decade, it is estimated that the number of rooms in the Caribbean will double to reach almost 500,000, according to Ralph Taylor, president of CHA.

“If we do not continue to grow at these rates, Caribbean economies will be in serious trouble,” noted Taylor.

“Tourism has established itself as the sector that contributes the most income to the Caribbean region.  We are talking about, depending on the country, revenues from tourism ranging from 30 - 75 percent.  That’s why if we do not increase our rooms according to the nine percent estimate, we could face problems and not satisfy our needs in other crucial areas such as healthcare, employment and education within every country,” Taylor added.

“Our three most important pre-requisites are capital, capital, and capital,” concluded Taylor.

CHTIC is the single largest gathering for tourism investment interests in the Caribbean region with more than 400 registered delegates. It was established in 1997 as a private / public sector initiative to position the Caribbean as a prime investment opportunity. Its purpose is to highlight the attractive business and investment opportunities available in the Caribbean to upgrade and increase hotel and tourism facilities and services.