The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) remains positive about the continued rebound of the tourism industry even in the face of the uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Over the past eighteen months, Caribbean destinations, without exception, have shown their resilience in creating strategies for recovery, incorporating frequently updated travel protocols, and collaborations with regional and international partners in the areas of health and economic support and development. Recovery in each instance, has taken place while ensuring the health and safety of residents and visitors alike.
The year 2021 has given us an indication that there is light at the end of what has been a long tunnel which began in March 2020. By mid-2021, we saw a turnaround in tourism activity, with the Caribbean exceeding the global average for stayover arrival growth and tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP). During the third quarter of 2021, there were 5.4 million tourist arrivals to the region, almost three times the arrivals for the same period in 2020, but still 23.3 percent below 2019 levels. Preliminary reports suggest that this progress continued through to the end of the last quarter. Consequently, it is estimated that tourist arrivals for 2021 will exceed 2020 levels by 60 to 70 percent.
As we begin 2022, once again grappling with the effects of a new variant which is also affecting international travel adversely, we are heartened by the recovery experiences and the lessons learnt in 2021.
These experiences and lessons have taught us that travel and hospitality can co-exist with the pandemic affecting both our destinations and markets. While the results to date have not indicated a return to 2019 levels, the exceptional results recorded in the summer to year-end period of 2021 show that a scaled or gradual rebound is likely and very possible by the end of 2022.