SILVER SPRING, USA -- The Caribbean should have a good year in tourism, stated a hotel executive, who pointed to the encouraging outlook from delegates attending last month's Caribbean Travel Marketplace in The Bahamas.
Bill Clegg, regional vice president, brand performance and programs for Choice Hotels International, reported the landmark travel event -- produced by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) -- featured upbeat "matchmaking" opportunities for hotels, tourism attractions, tour operators and travel partners throughout the region and the marketplace.
"As we (Choice Hotels International) execute our marketing strategy and renew our commitment to product and brand performance in the Caribbean this year, we are especially buoyed by the sentiment emerging from stakeholders about a part of the region we at Choice Hotels hold dear," said Clegg.
Choice Hotels, one of the world's largest hotel franchisors, is the franchisor for eight hotels in the Caribbean islands of The Bahamas, Curacao, Grand Cayman and Puerto Rico, and this year expects to add at least three new destinations to its regional roster.
Clegg, who is also regional vice president of CHTA's board of directors and chairman of the membership standing committee, said his optimism about the Caribbean was corroborated by a recent statement from chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Beverly Nicholson-Doty of the US Virgin Islands.
"The state of Caribbean tourism gives us reason to be optimistic. This optimism is based on the positive signs of growth following earlier down years. We are optimistic because we see arrival numbers rising, particularly out of North America; we see hotel revenues moving in the right direction, albeit with moderate acceleration and we see tourist spend on the increase," she reported.
"All the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying," the newly elected chairman noted. The Caribbean region as a whole has regained ground lost from the heat of the global economic depression in 2008-2009, she stated.
According to the CTO, the Caribbean welcomed nearly 25 million tourists last year, 5.4 percent more than in 2011 and the largest number of stay over visitors in five years. This rate of growth outpaced the rest of the world which saw arrivals increase by four percent.
Barring any unforeseen international or regional economic or social trauma in 2013, the indicators of Caribbean tourism performance should continue to move in a positive direction with visitor traffic to the region expected to increase by another four per cent to five percent in 2013.
"These are very encouraging statistics," said Clegg, who pledged Choice will play its part in helping grow the regional tourism pie this year.