More than 6,000 meetings have been held during the main industry event in the region highlighting the resilience of Caribbean tourism in the face of recovery
The first Virtual iteration of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace was a resounding success, organizers reported.
“This virtual format allowed us to introduce the Caribbean to new buyers and travel advisors from more than 20 markets who had not been able to attend in the past,” said Vanessa Ledesma, Interim CEO and General Director of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association ( CHTA), which hosts the annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace.
More than 6,000 meetings were held over three days, giving buyers from 20 countries the opportunity to connect with suppliers representing more than 150 hotels and tourism-related businesses in the Caribbean.
“We look forward to continuing the momentum as we move forward together in the region’s hotel sector”, Ledesma added.
CTM 39, which took place May 11-14, was especially significant for Caribbean hospitality professionals who have been working diligently to improve their products from a health and safety perspective.
“The last 15 months have been the ultimate test of our resilience and our ability to recover” said CHTA President Pablo Torres. “And recovering is exactly what we are doing”.
Torres added that the interest of travelers in the Caribbean is increasing. “We are back and ready to open business better than ever,” he said, then noted that the region has about 30,000 new hotel rooms in the planning and construction stage and is experiencing a 10 percent increase in inventory.
While the pandemic disrupted Caribbean tourism and the impact will be felt for years to come, “we believe the disruption will turn out to be a disruption,” Torres said, adding that the Caribbean has been a global leader in managing COVID-19. “We need to be inspired by our own resilience”.
Frank Comito, special advisor and former CEO and CEO of the CHTA, addressed the management of the pandemic in the region.
“We have been building on a six-year tourism health partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency, and that partnership has allowed us to get out of this situation much faster than we would have otherwise, due to our experience working in matters such as Zika and chikungunya and other types of health-related situations, as well as recovery from natural disasters”.
Regional stakeholders began to focus on pandemic preparedness in January 2020, allowing them to be at the forefront as a result of the unique partnership between health and tourism entities.
“In summary, our results to date have resulted in the Caribbean having one of the lowest per capita rates of reported COVID-19 incidents, hospitalizations and deaths in the world, a record we are committed to maintaining as we we are moving forward to reopen trips responsibly” Comito said.
The CTM 39 virtual conferencing platform and resources will be available online until June 30 at chtamarketplace.com.