Some Caribbean countries reported doing reasonably well during the period of anticipation of the conflict in Iraq.
About half a dozen member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) that reported for the January to March period tended to show growth over the same period in 2002.
“When one looks at early returns for a few Caribbean countries for the period January to March 2003, one is gratified to see that they did reasonably well,” said Jean Holder, CTO’s secretary general.
“One is saying cautiously, on the basis of a few numbers, that there seems to have been some diversion of traffic to the Caribbean region and largely from the United States market,” he added.
However, the secretary general warned that the continuing conflict would result in a “significant downturn of business.”
During the first week of the conflict, most people were reporting that there were not as many cancellations to the Caribbean region as was previously feared, although there were cases where people were asking for a deferment of travel.
“From here on in the picture seems to be changing. There are already concerns about forward bookings and that the number of postponements and/or cancellations seems to be increasing,” said Mr. Holder.
“Our message remains the same, especially to the U.S market. We in the Caribbean are open for business, we are close, and we certainly are taking whatever steps we can to ensure that we look after the safety and security of our guests,” he concluded.