Optimism pervades the 2020 outlook from CHTA executives

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Three female heads of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, from left: Karen Whitt, incoming president in June; Patricia Alfonso-Dass, current president; and Karolin Troubetzkoy, past president.
Three female heads of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, from left: Karen Whitt, incoming president in June; Patricia Alfonso-Dass, current president; and Karolin Troubetzkoy, past president. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

Results from the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's (CHTA) fifth annual Industry Performance and Outlook Study indicated that 2019 was a record year for Average Daily Rate, which was up 5.6% across the region.

Hotel room inventory was up  2.8% in 2019, to bring total room inventory to 259,538 rooms.

Occupancy, however, was down 2.7%, which Frank Comito, CEO and director general, attributed to the media crisis in the Dominican Republic last summer surrounding the deaths of several tourists, which later were found to be of natural causes, and the impact of Hurricane Dorian in the northern Bahamas last fall.

"Our biggest challenge is to geographically educate people," he said. "If a crisis develops in one part of the Caribbean, such as a hurricane, the whole region initially gets blamed."

However, recovery from the major hurricanes in 2017 seems to be steady. Comito said that "Tourism performance and room inventory neared pre-2017 hurricane levels for most of the six major destinations impacted by the 2017 storms."

Overall air arrivals jumped 4.4%; overall, air and cruise arrivals were up 4% in the first nine months of 2019.

The CHTA's overall outlook for 2020 "remains strong," according to the organization. That sentiment was reiterated by Karolin Trobetzkoy, past president of the CHTA and now head of its Education Commission.

"We must keep an eye on climate change and flight shaming," she said. "We must think environmentally and concentrate on zero waste and carbon neutrality."

Karen Whitt, who will succeed Patricia Alfonso-Dass, current president, when her two-year term expires in June, maintained that CHTA must "emphasize the culture and history of the region. I am optimistic regarding the future."

Alfonso-Dass summed up her feelings regarding CHTA and the future of Caribbean tourism in 2020: "I am passionate, encouraged, sunny and motivated."

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