Regional body optimistic about 2019 tourism forecast

By CMC

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CHTA’s Director General and CEO Frank Comito

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica, Feb 10, CMC – The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has shared the region’s optimistic 2019 tourism forecast of positive growth bolstered by increased airlift, improved sales, ongoing investments in hotel upgrades and refurbishments, and new properties coming on stream.

Speaking at the recent conclusion of CHTA’s 37th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, here, Frank Comito, CHTA’s director general and chief executive officer, expressed confidence in the tourism forecast, including a second consecutive year of significant increases in new hires and capital improvements resulting from the stronger performance trend.

Announcing the results of the fourth annual CHTA Industry Performance and Outlook Study, Comito was bullish about the immediate future, indicating that 85 percent of the hotels surveyed expressed optimism about the year, citing a continuation of the positive performance many experienced in 2018.

He said increased capital investments are paying dividends for 61 percent of hotels, while strong revenues are generating new hires by 47 percent of respondents.

Comito said another 44 per cent are maintaining existing employment levels.

He also said 76 per cent of hoteliers have reported increased revenue, with 29 percent registering significant growth.

“We are seeing high levels of investments in upgrades of existing hotels over the past three years, and the growth in new room inventory contributes to modest increases in room rates as the region’s product continues to expand and improve,” Comito said.

“This is a considerable shift from what we were seeing four years ago and is expected to continue this year,” he added.

The CHTA chief said that a healthier hotel sector is contributing to growth in employment, higher tax revenues for governments, and helping more hotels to realize a net profit.

He said 80 percent of responding hotels anticipate net profits, as they finalize their 2018 books.

“A healthy hotel sector is paramount to economic growth,” Comito said. “While every sector of our tourism economy is important, specifically cruise, marinas, and vacation home rentals, it is the hotel sector which has the greatest multiplier effect on economies. They continue to have the greatest impact on employment generation, spin-off businesses, new airlift, and tax revenue.

“We are pleased to see performance moving in this positive direction,” he added, stating that the CHTA survey will help the organization gain a better understanding of the state of the tourism economy, its outlook and factors which could influence the sustained expansion of the region’s visitor industry.

The CHA said the survey polled a representative sampling of hotels throughout the Caribbean, looking at their 2018 performance and 2019 expectations.

It examined areas such as employment levels, revenue, profits, capital spending, room occupancy, and rates as a basis for assessing the state of the tourism economy.

Comito said the residual impacts of the 2017 hurricanes were still affecting several destinations.

He, therefore, urged tourism officials to address any lingering, unfavorable marketplace perceptions by making greater marketing investments.

“While we are definitely upbeat about the performance of tourism in the region, we cannot rest on our laurels this year,” said Comito, cautioning that changes in the global economy could adversely impact performance.

“As we enjoy a very strong winter season, the industry should anticipate and plan for external factors which could curb growth in 2019,” he added.

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