NASSAU, The Bahamas -- During our recent coverage of the 30th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Travel Agent learned that the Caribbean is looking to yet again break its record for stop-over arrivals once the 2011 figures have officially been finalized.
According to a speech made by Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) President Josef Forstmayr during the event’s opening ceremony, “2010 was a record year for stop-over arrivals with 23.1 million visitors. The (Caribbean Tourism Organization's) forecast for 2011 is for a four-percent growth for another record of 24 million arrivals.”
The event, which ran from Sunday to Tuesday, drew roughly 350 buyers from 18 Countries. It remains the region’s most important and largest marketing convention and the single most important CHTA benefit for hotel members.
According to Fortsmayr, the Caribbean remains the most tourism-dependent region in the world and the substantial volume of transactions. He says the 15,000 appointments that took place at the event over two days “will bolster the Caribbean nations’ economies directly resulting in a better standard of living for our Caribbean citizens.”
“There is no question that our buyers who are attending Caribbean Travel Marketplace are in large part responsible for these encouraging and welcome statistics, “ he says about the new stop-over record. “That said, it would be remiss of me not to mention that CHTA continues to advocate strongly on behalf of the tourism industry. Through our advocacy program – Tourism Is Key – we have now run this tourism promotion and awareness campaign in eleven countries.”
The four pillars of the “Tourism is Key” campaign are: advocacy with governments and citizens; linkages of tourism into local industry, agriculture and services; regional integration (improved airlift, less bureaucracy for regional travel) and regional marketing.
|CHTA President Josef Fortsmayr|
“There has to be a strong consensus of our leaders and the public so that travel and tourism will receive the full support it needs as the Caribbean’s most vital export industry,” he says. “It is the fastest way to create jobs, grow the economy and generate income for all. Every citizen needs to understand that, whether or not he or she works directly in the tourism areas, every tourist’s dollar brings economic and social benefits to every level of our society.”
Regarding the all-important subject of airlift, however, Fortsmayr says, “CHTA estimated that in 2010 the Caribbean governments collectively paid $45 million to secure air-lift – only to find that our airlift is still inadequate and way too expensive for our visitors.”
“Furthermore intra-Caribbean tourism once represented 13 percent of the region’s tourism; as much as Canada,” he says. “The combined population of Caribbean countries is 40 million. However, due to the lack of a competitive and truly regional airline, regional tourism has been suffocated by outrageous ticket prices and a cumbersome and ill-conceived network.”
According to Fortsmayr, Caribbean nationals cannot travel freely between their countries without being subjected to visas, long immigration lines and other “bureaucratic indulgences that stifle any sense of hospitality, the Caribbean’s trade-mark.”
“Too often, we hear that long lines, antiquated bureaucracy and surly attitudes are commonplace in our islands,” he says. “This is not acceptable.”
In regards to regional marketing Fortsmayr reported that the Caribbean tourism industry’s marketing and business development unit, the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC), has taken an important step towards re-launching its vacation website, CaribbeanTravel.com, and has made a significant financial commitment to redesign and rebuild the site which will be re-launched in August this year.