More than 400 buyers from 26 territories are expected to converge on Puerto Rico for the return of Caribbean Travel Marketplace, two years after the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) was forced to cancel face-to-face meetings owing to COVID-19.
Latvia is among the new markets out of Europe slated to be represented alongside Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, at the Puerto Rico Convention Centre in San Juan.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig said that several Jamaican hoteliers, destination management companies, and transportation operators are booked to meet in the Puerto Rican capital, which reported minimal damage from Hurricane Fiona.
The event returns as hoteliers throughout the region report buoyancy in the accommodations sector, said Madden-Greig.
“Definitely, tourism is back. Most of our CHTA members are reporting they are back to 2019 figures, which was the best year pre-COVID,” she said.
Madden-Greig says the US continues to lead in the recovery effort, with Canada following closely behind. Latin America has been the slowest to return. However, airlines such as COPA have expressed optimism, reporting that their loads are returning.
“The demand is there for the Caribbean,” she said, referencing data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which depicts the Caribbean as the fastest region to recover.
“The demand to experience the Caribbean is something we have never seen before,” added the CHTA president, while urging the region to capitalise on its popularity.
The WTTC also noted that eight of the 10 most tourism-dependent countries globally in 2019 are located in the Caribbean.
The International Aviation and Transportation Authority has also stated that the region is on a good recovery track.
Prior to 2020, aviation and tourism contributed 13.9 per cent of GDP and 15.2 per cent of all jobs in the region. With the reopening of borders, the average daily rate has also received a bump, with several entities attracting higher rates than they did in 2019.
Caribbean Travel Marketplace will for the first time see Jamaica hosting a Destination Pavilion, said Madden-Greig, hosting business meetings as well as showcasing the island’s music and culture.
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett will address the business of tourism during the inaugural Caribbean Travel Forum on Monday, the trade show’s first day.