Scott Wiseman, president of Travel Impressions, told Travel Agent that although bookings to the Caribbean have understandably dipped following the back-to-back hurricanes of Irma and Maria, he expects the region's tourism industry to rebound by early 2018.
“Bookings to the Caribbean in the aftermath of the hurricanes are understandably soft, but the region is resilient and we anticipate a recovery by early 2018,” Wiseman told Travel Agent. “While new bookings for the remainder of 2017 may have slowed, it’s worth noting that occupancy levels in unaffected destinations will remain at projected levels due to reservations already in place before the hurricane season. Cancellations were minimal and were largely offset by re-bookings.”
And Travel Impressions is doing its part to make sure that prediction comes to fruition.
“The regional tourism industry, championed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is actively working with travel agents and tour operators educate consumers and develop targeted promotions that will help drive arrivals,” Wiseman told Travel Agent. “We are doing our best to support that as much as possible, as we have with our 'Caribbean Strong: Fully Functional and Fully Fabulous' campaign.”
Travel Agent was told that the Caribbean Strong campaign’s main focus will be driving business to islands that are currently fully operational and welcoming tourists. Those islands include Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Travel Impressions will participate in the hurricane relief funds set up by the Caribbean’s public and private-sector tourism and hospitality development agencies and is encouraging travel agents and industry partners to do the same.
“Travel to the Caribbean isn’t a dream that needs to be put on hold,” said Wiseman in a recent email to travel agents. “Most destinations in the Caribbean outside of the northernmost Leeward Islands were a safe distance from Irma’s path, while many resorts on impacted destinations escaped the hurricane unscathed."
Travel Impressions is supporting a GoFundMe campaign set up by the CTO as well as a relief fund set up by the CHTA in conjunction with Tourism Cares. The operator is encouraging travel agents and other industry partners to make similar donations, while stepping up its promotion of the region.
“Tourism is the number one economic driver for the Caribbean and when you have major consumer media characterizing the region as ‘flattened’ in a very generalized way this can inflict additional harm on a tourism-dependent region that is already suffering a major crisis,” says Wiseman. “While our natural instincts might tell us not to feature the Caribbean in order to be sensitive and respectful, the region is looking to us in the travel trade to educate and inform consumers—and ultimately, to continue sending clients whose visits will inject much-needed capital into local economies.”
Visit www.travelimpressions.com/caribbeanstrong and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.