Luxury travel to the Caribbean is increasing after the global economic slump, according to Ricky Skerritt, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
Addressing delegates at first CTO-organised State of the Industry Conference in St Martin, Skerritt also confirmed leisure travel was posting significant gains this year.
Year-over-year visitor arrivals to the Caribbean reflect a solid across-the-board increase, he added.
However, challenges still remain from the after-effects of the global recession.
“Visitor numbers are up but per-visitor expenditures are down, the length of stay is shrinking, and to prosper we must provide value for travel, affordable airlift and cost-effective marketing strategies,” he told an industry audience at the event.
The conference theme - Wining in a competitive environment – was increasingly “appropriate, given the region is competing more and more with other destinations around the world”.
Earlier, British Airways chief executive Keith Williams has outlined one of the major concerns facing the Caribbean, blaming Air Passenger Duty in the United Kingdom for the decision to cut services to the region.
The State of the Industry Conference – organised in collaboration with the St Martin Tourist Office – brings together tourism interests from the public and private sectors to tackle a number of critical issues including overcoming the hurdles to intra-regional travel, how to use limited resources to the greatest advantage, how to influence the affluent travellers, and being truly competitive.
One of the sessions, Communication Means Business will be pay particular attention to the value of clear, accurate dissemination of information around the world, using a vast array of media channels.
The conference builds on the success of the Leadership Strategy Conference held in Barbados last year, and satisfies a need felt among the membership, including travel agent partners, for such a gathering, annually.
The general conference sessions was this year be preceded by a series of meetings on September 14th & 15th involving ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, as well as private sector tourism partners.
The conference headquarters hotel is Le Domaine on French St Martin.