NASSAU -- Despite a
softening in the U.S. market in travel to the Caribbean region in
the first half of 2007, stayover visitor arrival figures did
rebound in the second half of the year for many destinations, a
trend which has continued into 2008.
Hoteliers and tourism
officials, buoyed by a strong start to the new year, are optimistic
that the trend will continue, regardless of challenges facing the
U.S. economy that include an increase in fuel costs, the sub-prime
meltdown, the related collapse of the U.S. housing market and the
weakened U.S. dollar.
attendance at the Caribbean Hotel Association's Marketplace 2008,
held here this week, attested to the strong interest in the region
from representatives across the board in the public and private
sectors, including buyers, suppliers and tourism and government
However, one message
was very clear: the Caribbean region cannot ignore the competition
that exists on a worldwide basis for the U.S. travel
In his keynote
address at Marketplace, Hubert Ingraham, prime minister of the
Bahamas, cautioned delegates that "the travelling public has an
increased buffet from which to select their destination of
vacation destinations are no longer the sole province of venues in
the Americas, Ingrham said, citing the Pacific and Middle East
regions as strong competitors for the U.S. travel
"It is critically
important that hotel owners and operators ensure that our hotels
are equipped with the amenities demanded and expected by visitors
and that guests leave our properties believing that they have
received good value for their money," he said.
competitive threat from other destinations are additional issues
that impact the visitor experience in the Caribbean. According to
Ingraham, these issues include safety and security; transportation
and communication; human resource development, research and
information; and promotion and marketing.
On a larger scale,
land-based tourism properties are feeling the impact of global
warming and climate change on the industry.
"These phenomena are
a cause for concern not only because of their impact on weather
patterns and the strength and frequency of storms, but also because
increased temperatures of our waters cause coral bleaching that
threatens the sustainability of our beaches and dive sites,"
Marketplace 2009 will
be hosted by St. Lucia, marking the first time that the annual
event will be held on the island.
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].