Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Growth & Jobs | Caribbean tourism remains robust, but growth slows, says ForwardKeys report

Published:Tuesday | May 28, 2024 | 12:06 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer
Olivier Ponti, director of intelligence and marketing at ForwardKeys, displaying the Caribbean Travel Trends 2024 report at the 2024 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s ‘Travel Forum’ on Monday, May 20 at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St
Olivier Ponti, director of intelligence and marketing at ForwardKeys, displaying the Caribbean Travel Trends 2024 report at the 2024 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s ‘Travel Forum’ on Monday, May 20 at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St James.
Nicola Madden-Grieg, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), addressing the CHTA ‘Travel Forum’ 2024 on Monday, May 20 at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St James.
Nicola Madden-Grieg, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), addressing the CHTA ‘Travel Forum’ 2024 on Monday, May 20 at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St James.
1
2

ON THE opening day of the just-concluded 2024 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Caribbean (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Nicola Madden-Greig, president of the CHTA, made a presentation on the state of tourism in the Caribbean, using extensively a report titled ‘ForwardKeys Destination Insights Caribbean Travel Trends 2024.

In the ‘Travel Trend’ section, the lead story says, ‘Caribbean tourism remains robust, but growth slows’. It says that for the first half of 2024, international arrivals to the Caribbean shows a more than 10 per cent year-on-year increase, and overall growth of more than 13 per cent, compared to 2019. This highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled destinations in the region to a competitive level.

With tickets for international arrivals remaining globally at 16 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, the Caribbean remains a strong performer. “However, the year-on-year growth, while positive, represents a more modest increase compared to the rest of the Americas, which exhibits (more than) 15 per cent growth over the same period. It is therefore crucial for forward-looking Caribbean destinations to develop strategies to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive travel environment.”

Several top-tier Caribbean destinations, those representing a market share of five per cent or more, are leading the way. Puerto Rico leads the ranking, with overseas arrival showing more than 18 per cent year-on-year growth in the first half of 2024, driven primarily by arrivals from the US. Significant growth is also evident for the Dominican Republic, more than 12 per cent, boosted by increased connectivity from key origin cities such as Orlando. Cancun in the Mexican Caribbean (more than seven per cent), The Bahamas (more than six per cent) and Jamaica (more than two per cent) have shown more moderate growth.

The report also says that: mid-tier destinations gained ground on strategic segments; intra-Caribbean connectivity opens the door for multi-destination trips; increased North American connectivity reflects growing demand; European travellers look elsewhere, but high-value travel grows; Latin America travel continue to grow, exceed 2019 levels; and Caribbean carnivals drive tourism growth from key visitor segments.

There is also an article called ‘How Jamaica has remained resilient through global disruptions’, in which Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Donovan White outlines the background, the problem, the solution, and the result, which says, “Ninety per cent of tourism investments in the destination remained on track post-COVID and airline partners continue to add new routes to the island. Visitation to the island continues to grow, and in fact has exceeded pre-COVID with more than four million in 2023 and earning US$4.2 billion in gross foreign exchange, while trending positively for 2024.”

ForwardKeys is a travel intelligence specialist “founded on the simple idea that businesses dependent on international travel … can make better strategic decisions if they know who is travelling where, when, and for how long”. Its data ecosystem provides “exclusive insight into air travel through a variety of data partners and industry entities covering direct airline tickets and travel agency bookings, flight searches, seat capacity, events, air traffic statistics and more”.

Its director of intelligence and marketing, Olivier Ponti, who attended the four-day events, says in the report’s forward, “Now that the global tourism industry has emerged from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean finds itself in a strong position, having achieved exceptional growth in recent years. However, the region faces increased competition as destinations worldwide reopen and travellers have more choice than ever before.”

In the same section, Madden-Greig writes, “ As we navigate the post-pandemic tourism landscape, our region faces both immense opportunities and challenges. Traveller behaviour is evolving, new markets are emerging, and the competitive environment is more dynamic than ever before … I am confident that Caribbean tourism will continue to thrive in the years ahead, driven by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of CHTA members throughout the region.”