As we approach the end of 2022 and into the festive season, we look to renewed hope for the Caribbean to move past recovery and into robust growth. The recent ForwardKeys data presented at our inaugural Caribbean Travel Forum in October points to a successful rebound and projected growth for Caribbean tourism.
While this growth has not been linear and/or equal amongst all destinations it highlights the tremendous resilience and demand for the region. Well, members, the news is good. All indicators are that Caribbean tourism is back!
The WTTC report on Caribbean tourism performance stated a 36.6% growth in GDP for the region in 2021 over 2020. The Caribbean has since moved to be the fastest region recovery globally.
Forward Keys report of September 9, 2022 showed that total inbound tourism arrivals globally had only recovered to -31% of 2019 arrivals. The Americas (including the Caribbean) saw recovery for Q3: -24% and projected for Q4: -15%, Africa & Middle East recorded Q3: -19% and Q4: -1%, Europe for Q3: -31% and Q4: -25% while the Caribbean recorded Q3: +3% and for Q4: +15%. This clearly indicated a region that has moved past recovery into growth.
It is important to recap the WTTC forecast of potential growth between 2022 and 2032, Travel & Tourism’s contribution to the global GDP is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 5.8% — outpacing the forecasted average annual growth rate of 2.7% for the global economy. The Caribbean travel and tourism sector will enjoy this growth and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.5%, more than double the region’s overall economy growth of 2.4% to reach US$ 85.1 billion in 2032 from US$ 50 billion in 2022. Meanwhile, Caribbean travel and tourism jobs are forecasted to grow by an average rate of 3.3% annually, creating more than 916,000 new jobs by 2032.
However, we still face significant headwinds due to lack of air connectivity, labour shortage issues, supply chain disruptions and continued travel restrictions in some territories and the potential for other external shocks still looms.
It is even more important now to move forward with collaboration and effective partnership. Caribbean tourism was able to sustain the most significant blow to its operations and it has survived. Now we must work collectively to ensure it not just survives but thrives. This means using the lessons learned over the past two years, seeking solutions through innovation and technology and on-going up-skilling and re-skilling of our work force.
The recently held successful 40th anniversary of Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Puerto Rico cemented the demand for the region and sought to highlight the many micro, small and medium size tourism enterprises seeking to grow and attain an even larger share of the tourism pie. In 2023, we intend to further our focus on this segment through our own efforts as well as with collaboration of partners such as the OAS to finalize research and provide implementation support that will ensure a sustained and safe pathway past recovery into growth for our micro, small, and medium size tourism entities (MSMTEs) and give them support to undertake implementing practices to sure up their level of resilience and ability to thrive.
This year we celebrated our 60th anniversary as the premiere association and the voice of Caribbean tourism, I again call on you our members and those who are yet to become members to join us in re-imagining, re-focusing and reviving Caribbean tourism to deliver a much more robust, resilient, human centric and technology driven industry that can anticipate future shocks and create an environment for sustained growth and profitability.
As President, I wish you and your family all the best for the holidays and a most prosperous and joyous New Year. I also want to personally thank Vanessa, Frank, the MPE team, our Vice Presidents, Executive and Board of Directors and all our partners such as CARPHA, CTO, WTTC, UNWTO, IATA, our National Hotel & Tourism Associations and Boards and you our members for all that you do to make Caribbean tourism strong. It is through our continuous and active participation with CHTA that we will reach the goal clearly articulated by the WTTC.
We look forward to your active participation in 2023 as we work towards our collective success.