The annual meeting of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has begun in Jamaica

  • The annual meeting of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has begun in Jamaica.
    The annual meeting of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has begun in Jamaica.
By Karina Giorgenello @losviajesdekarina
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Montego Bay, Jamaica – The vibrant tourist destination of Montego Bay has been chosen to host the highly anticipated annual meeting of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA). This event, which brings together industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and government officials, promises to be a turning point for the region, driving growth strategies and sustainable development.

In the opening speech of the event, Nicola Madden-Greig, President of the CHTA, highlighted the impressive recovery of tourism in the Caribbean following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Madden-Greig presented the "State of the Industry and Region" address, emphasizing that in 2023, the Caribbean surpassed pre-pandemic tourist arrival numbers with a 0.8% increase compared to 2019.

Economic Impact of Tourism

The economic impact report revealed crucial data about tourism's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2019, tourism's global contribution to GDP was 10.4%, while in the Caribbean it reached a remarkable 13.7%. In 2023, these figures adjusted to 9.2% globally and 11.5% in the Caribbean. Projections for 2032 are encouraging, with expectations of an 11.6% global contribution and 14.2% in the Caribbean.

The report also highlighted that employment in the travel and tourism sector represented 9.6% of global jobs in 2023, while in the Caribbean this percentage was significantly higher, reaching 15.2%.

Madden-Greig emphasized the vibrant energy and collaborative effort that have propelled the Caribbean forward and the need to reflect this vitality in branding, celebrating everything nature offers: the sea, the mountains, the air, and especially the people of the Caribbean, who truly drive the tourism product.

In terms of services, she mentioned that they have expanded their team and seek to continue offering new and interesting services, in addition to adding new events. This year, for example, saw the first "Caribbean MICE Exchange," a separate track for meeting planners, and the addition of responsibility advisors. The president emphasized that they are taking the CHTA to the next level, working closely with international hotel and tourism associations, as well as government partners, to ensure services are provided to their Caribbean members.

Furthermore, she underscored the CHTA's commitment to sustainability and technology. She spoke about beach erosion due to climate change and mentioned collaboration with their sister organization, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, and other entities like The Nature Conservancy. They have been undertaking training and development projects in restoration and efficiency. Madden-Greig announced that they are working on a pilot project to cluster several hotels to achieve the necessary kilowattage for energy efficiency, instead of hotels doing it individually, and details of this initiative will be announced soon.

Caribbean Destination Statistics in 2023

Regarding the share of major Caribbean destinations, the Dominican Republic led with 25% of total arrivals, followed by Puerto Rico with 12%, and Cuba with 8%. Jamaica, the host of the event, captured 7% of arrivals.

Destination Performance and Source Markets

Among the best-performing Caribbean destinations in 2023 compared to 2019, Curaçao recorded a 27% increase, closely followed by the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, each with a 22% increase. On the other hand, the Leeward Islands of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) experienced the highest increase in tourist arrivals compared to 2022, with a 20.4% rise, while the French Caribbean faced the largest decline with an 8.8% drop.

Regarding source markets, the Caribbean saw a significant increase in arrivals from Canada, with a 46.1% rise compared to 2022. However, arrivals from Germany decreased by 5.8%.

Outlook and Connectivity in 2024

Looking ahead to the first half of 2024, arrivals in the Caribbean are projected to increase by 10% compared to 2023 and by 13% compared to 2019. This growing demand is also reflected in greater connectivity with North America. The main source markets showing continued growth include Colombia (+20%), Brazil (+12%), and Argentina (+9%).