by Linda Straker
Grenada and other Caribbean nations have been performing at a healthy growth rate of 5.2% between January and June when compared to the same period in 2016, but this is expected to change significantly for the 2nd half of 2017 and into 2018.
Joy Jibrilu, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), explained that the growth during the first 6 months reflected economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers and new marketing and product development initiatives.
“During the first 6 months, the region recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, some 800,000 more than in the first 6 months of 2016. Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3%,” she told the media during a news conference on the last day of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference. She said that up to June, the European market had grown by 7.9%, Canada by 6.4% and, despite the weak sterling, the UK by 4.8%.
Jibrilu said that in the hotel industry, the half-year outcomes reported by STR Global showed that average occupancy increased marginally by 0.2 percentage points to 70.8%, while the average daily room rate rose slightly by 0.2%, moving from US$220.84 in 2016 to US$221.38 in 2017.
“Like tourist arrivals, growth in the cruise sector also remained positive and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. At the end of the first 6 months of 2017, it is estimated that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached 15.3million, 4.0% more than in the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year,” she said.
However, with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the growth rate will slow down in the remaining quarters of the year. As a result, the expected growth rate of tourist arrivals will range between 1.0% and 2.0% in 2017, with the 2018 performance expected to be similar.
Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the CTO said that despite the impact on some of the northern islands, the intention is to market the Caribbean as one space, where, if country A cannot meet the demand, then country B should fill the void.
One of the actions that will be taken is establishing a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) to coordinate the tourism product restoration efforts.
Jibrilu said that it was agreed in a high-level meeting that a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team would be established under the chairmanship of Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett and would include representatives of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, the World Travel & Tourism Council and the UNWTO.
A secretariat will be established, with responsibility for coordinating the technical support, capacity building, communication strategy, multilateral and bilateral agency engagement, as well as the management of public/private partnership arrangements regarding the restoration of the tourism product across the Caribbean.
The secretariat will have its 1st meeting later in October, when the formal strategic framework and governance structure will be developed.