Three tourism executives were recently asked: "What's keeping you busy these days? How are you doing?"
The three tourism pros headlined the recent Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's Resilience Series, which examined Caribbean hotel performance year to date and included insights on the upcoming winter season.
Karolin Troubetzkoy, executive director, marketing and operations of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts in St. Lucia, answered with a question of her own. "What will 2022 hold for our resorts? Advance planning and strategically restructuring our marketing for 2022 are keeping me busy."
She said demand was strong right now.
The first quarter of 2021 was "shaky." U.S. demand drove the second quarter. "We have gone from strength to strength and now have recovered occupancy to 80%," she said. "We are very satisfied with our RevPar. The luxury market is doing well for us."
Peter Hopgood, president of Paulson Puerto Rico Hotels, answered, "I've taken advantage of the slowdown this past year to get ready for a busy winter season this year. We had a great summer with big increases in ADR and RevPar due to rate increases. Data shows demand is there. There is a lot of activity."
Hopgood is looking at where the U.S. traveler is planning to go. "Corporate travel and the convention markets are driving much of the current demand from the U.S.," he said.
Erin Smith, the chief information officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, replied that the third quarter "was a big season for us, with high demand and lots of visitors from the U.S. Our ADR was up in Q3 over the same period in 2019, but we have to get our occupancy numbers up."
Smith reported that Bermuda's visitors this past summer stayed longer and spent more, helped by more airlift from American Airlines out of Charlotte and British Airways' resumption of service out of Heathrow.
The "most resilient" Caribbean destinations in 2022 in terms of visitor volume and demand will be the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Antigua and Barbuda, according to Forward Keys, which tracks industry trends.
What will Caribbean winter season be like for travel
Panel moderator Rico Louw of STR asked Smith, Hopgood and Troubetzkoy about their winter outlook.
"Sports are an integral part of Bermuda's long-term plan. Golf, sailing and endurance events such as a triathlon are events we're incorporating into our offerings," said Smith.
Troubetzkoy is homing in on the return of cruising as a source of revenue for passenger day visits to her resorts.
"A robust recovery will take to 2023," she predicted. "All of us in the Caribbean need to get our act together and look at the Caribbean regionally. Covid protocols will continue to hinder family travel for a time, but once all of the regulations are more streamlined, we will see recovery."
"We saw recovery this summer in our hotels and took the time to prepare for 2022 and 2023 to maximize corporate demand," said Hopgood. "Having the backup of Discover Puerto Rico and a strong convention center team have been great. We're looking toward a healthy 2022 and even better 2023."