Regional stakeholders urged to get ready for strong winter tourist season

By CMC

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Cruise ships in the Castries harbour.

(CMC) – Director General and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Frank Comito has urged Caribbean’s private sector to generate strong profits in the new year with the unprecedented quantity of airlift coming into the region.

Comito, whose team is preparing to host the 37th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the Caribbean’s largest tourism marketing event, in Jamaica next month, has encouraged regional stakeholders to get ready for what the association believes can be an especially strong winter season.

“With new routes and upgraded aircraft announcements over recent months, market-savvy hoteliers are positioned to increase occupancy and generate additional business.”

He said that while the 2017 storms affected year-over-year growth, with new, re-opening and upgraded hotels the region is poised for growth.

Destinations which were impacted by the 2017 hurricanes are seeing a return to pre-2017 flight levels while many other destinations in the region are seeing increased service.

“We are confident that hotels participating in Marketplace this January in Jamaica will be in a great position to promote their properties, especially with the added airlift,” added Comito.

He cited JetBlue Airways’ continued growth into the region with additional flights and upgraded Mint service starting in early 2019.

Meanwhile, another US based carrier, Delta Air is bumping up its service to The Bahamas; Kingston, Jamaica; St. Kitts and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Similarly, American Airlines has added capacity to Aruba, Bahamas, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Turks and Caicos, and is increasing its service to Barbados, Curaçao, Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and St. Lucia.

Also on CHTA’s radar are new Southwest flights to Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean; Grand Cayman; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Turks and Caicos. The airline is also expanding its service to San Juan, Puerto Rico.Copa Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Iberia, LATAM Airlines, Norwegian Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sunwing, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are also extending their reach into the Caribbean.

Comito noted that regional carriers are also undergoing considerable expansion and some are entering into new partner agreements, helping to improve connectivity, particularly to those destinations with fewer nonstop flights.

These among other travel, tourism and hospitality trends will be discussed in Jamaica during Caribbean Travel Marketplace from January 20-31.

Comito explained that while demand for the region is strong, major investments in airport expansions were contributing to the growth in airlift, which bodes well for the destinations and travelers.

Airports in Antigua, The Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico have recently benefited from upgrades, while those in Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Curaçao and St. Maarten are under construction. Officials in Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Haiti, Kingston, Martinique, St. Lucia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are each examining expansion plans.

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