CHTA urges intervention to accelerate tourism recovery


CHTA urges intervention to accelerate tourism recovery

Vanessa Ledesma

FLORIDA– The Miami-based Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has called for interventions to accelerate Caribbean tourism recovery, warning that while regional tourism industry stakeholders are encouraged by growing signs of a recovery on the horizon and most businesses have reopened or are planning to, many tourism-related businesses will remain challenged to return to pre-pandemic employment and operation levels.

CHTA said on Sunday that lost revenue, little measure of recovery support and stimulus coupled with added expenses – including covering carry-on costs to support employees, ongoing utilities, financing and other operating expenses – have placed many hotels and tourism-related employers at risk and threaten their ability to recover, or recover quickly, over the coming months.

“The downside effects of a slower recovery could have an even more damaging impact on Caribbean governments and businesses, and threaten the return to work for many in a region where tourism has been the economic mainstay,” said Vanessa Ledesma, CHTA’s acting chief executive officer and director general.

“Ironically, the region is well-positioned to recover quickly because of Caribbean tourism’s strong appeal and proximity to major travel markets where consumers are anxious and have already begun to escape,” added Ledesma, expressing optimism about the region’s recovery but, at the same time, expressing concerns cited in a COVID-19 Business Impact and Recovery Survey recently conducted by CHTA.

According to the survey, about 14 per cent of industry stakeholders indicated they are likely or highly likely to permanently close as a result of the pandemic, while 37 per cent indicated that permanent closure is a possibility.

Ledesma said this news comes at a time when most Caribbean hotels and tourism-related businesses either have reopened or are planning to reopen in the coming months.

CHTA said its outreach was the third in a series of surveys that the trade association has undertaken over the past year.

CHTA said the surveys have measured the impact of the pandemic on the region’s largest industry and have helped to guide CHTA, the industry, policymakers and support institutions, as they consider policies, operational practices, marketing and communications strategies, training and support efforts aimed at accelerating and stimulating tourism recovery.

The initial survey results last year helped to guide the industry in putting in place health safety protocols and operational practices, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Caribbean Tourism Organization, CHTA said.

It said these protocols, together with effective policies by many of the region’s health authorities and governments, have contributed to the Caribbean’s success in containing COVID-19 to a level below the global average.