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Tourism conference helps us learn from our neighbours

Opinions & Editorial 15 Sep, 2022 Follow News

Tourism conference helps us learn from our neighbours

This week’s conference organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has given these islands great food-for-thought when it comes to how our Caribbean neighbours are positioning themselves to up their game when it comes to tourism following the pandemic shutdown of the past few years.

Anguilla confirmed that pent up demand for its tourism product was strong and it was enjoying a huge rebound in both repeat visitors and new visitors to the island, anticipating their winter 2022/23 season would be its “best ever on record”. It has made significant improvements to its infrastructure and seen new resort development and new on-island events coming online, including finalising their airport masterplan and construction of a new Blowing Point Ferry terminal building. The Aurora Anguilla – formerly CuisinArt - opened in December after a multi-million-dollar renovation. Anguilla said it was also a culinary destination and the go-to destination for celebrity chefs.

Barbados forecast a return to 80% of 2019 levels at the end of 2022, with the UK its strongest market, with visitor arrivals between 80%-90% of 2019 levels, and a new focus on developing its emerging markets, such as Latin America. Cruise levels are bouncing back and they expect sailing capacity to reach over 90 per cent, having reached arrivals levels seen prior to 2019. It’s also promoting itself as a sports tourism location, with events such as the West Indies vs New Zealand cricket test match taking place in August. It’s also hosting the first ever global Fintech summit in October.

St Kitts introduced their new Tourism head, Minister Marsha Henderson, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, International Transport, Employment & Labour and Urban Development. They had held a successful Restaurant Week + Grand Tasting, length-of-stays are on the rise and the destination was seeing new property openings. It, too, was focussing on developing sports tourism and had been voted the Caribbean Leading Dive Destination by World Travel Awards. It had also launched publications showcasing its culinary offerings. Sustainable tourism was another facet of its tourism offering.

The Bahamas has won a string of travel awards, including the 2022 & 2021 World Travel Award as the Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island Destination, and the Readers’ Choice Awards for Scuba Diving, Best Big Animals, Best Wreck Diving, Best Cave Diving. Diving, boating and fishing, romance, ecology and private flying tuition were all reasons to visit The Bahamas and the islands were getting coverage in global media as a result.  Future bookings were on a par with 2019 and the Nassau cruise port was currently under redevelopment. Hotel and resort openings/re-openings were in the pipeline.

As far as air arrivals went, Dominica was on track to achieve target for 2022. USA is its top source market, followed by the Caribbean region. For 2022 it launched a rebrand, focussing on adventure, agrotourism/cuisine, health and wellness, aqua and events and entertainment. A new eco resort was opened in 2021 and its government has signed agreement for the construction of a new international airport, projected for completion in 2025.

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