The Caribbean hotel industry has weathered the storm of one of the worst global economic downturns in history and now enjoys the benefits of pent-up demand for warm-weather vacations, according to Josef Forstmayr, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Speaking at the 15th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference last week in Montego Bay, Forstmayr pointed out that challenges remain, “and we must remain vigilant in our job to protect and preserve our industry.”
Challenges facing the Caribbean region include improved airlift, along with rising fuel costs, increased airport user fees and taxes. “As airfares rise, vacations become more costly or sometimes even result in reduced services,” Forstmayr said.
He pointed out that airlift is one of the top three items on developers’ lists when researching investment opportunities.
“It is time that all our Caribbean governments and the entire private sector get off our collective butts and work together to get over this hurdle,” he said.
Forstmayr called for more regional integration, fewer visas, more airlift and less taxation. “I urge once again that Jamaica take the lead to establish funding for a regional marketing campaign.”
He quoted British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said that “tourism is fundamental to the rebuilding and rebalancing our economy. It’s one of the fastest ways of generating the jobs we need so badly.”