Regional tourism officials talk new markets to sustain tourism growth

Sealy was speaking to the media during the annual Caribbean week now taking place in New York. For economic sustainability, he said the Caribbean is looking at developing new markets.

“We had an extensive discussion about Latin America, and particular the big player in Latin America, which is Brazil – some definite potential there for offering the warm weather vacation experience of the Caribbean to Brazilians,” Sealy stated.

He explained further, “There is a move on the part of the Caribbean to look beyond our traditional source markets, Asia as well, and obviously the big player in Asia will be China, so we’re looking to see how we can cooperate via the various fora that CTO possesses, so that we can better leverage these possibilities.”

Generally, though, Sealy believes the Caribbean is recovering well. He recalled that in 2014 Caribbean arrivals grew by 5.3 percent to 26.3 million visitors. In the first quarter of 2014, and a 6 percent increase in regional arrivals was recorded that year.

“I think it is fair to say that we are now well into recovery mode,” the CTO chairman said, as he made reference to the global economic and financial challenges that impacted Caribbean tourism. He said CTO now estimates 7.9 million visitors would have visited the Caribbean in the first quarter of the year. First quarter statistics are significant because they reflect the peak tourism period for Caribbean tourism.

“In the accommodations sector, all leading hotel performance indicators were positive… We saw historical first-quarter highs for room occupancy, 77.8 percent,” Sealy said, while acknowledging “room for growth”.

But he indicated that cruise passenger arrivals slowed registering 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013.

Lindsay-Grant-NYCHe also noted that investment levels in the sector are significantly high in terms of new hotel construction, as well as refurbishment of existing properties that suggest confidence in the region’s long-term economic outlook.

Meanwhile, St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant participated in the CTO meetings along with representatives of the Tourism Authority, coordinated as part of the annual Caribbean Week promotions and activities in New Your City.

Earlier in the week, St. Kitts hosted an invitation-only cocktail reception and dinner at the Park Hyatt hotel in New York City, for select members of the media representing top-tier publications.

Publications with high-ranking editors in attendance at the event included Departures, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, AFAR, Saveur, BlackBook, Luxury, Endless Vacation and Upscale.

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