The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is looking to launch a major regional marketing campaign at the end of this month, as member territories seek to increase their tourism market share.
CTO Chairman Dionsio D’Aguilar told reporters at a press conference in New York this morning that the promotion will be undertaken in collaboration with the organization’s private sector partner, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, under the theme The Rhythm never stops.
D’Aguilar, the minister of tourism in the Bahamas, told travel writers attending the annual Caribbean Week that a sustained marketing programme was critical, even though he acknowledged that funding remains a challenge.
“Our competitors are light years ahead of us in that regard. Brand USA has an annual budget of $164 million; Australia’s budget is $122 million; Canada’s [is] $75 million,” he said.
Secretary General Hugh Riley said while the full details of the campaign will be provided at a later date, CTO was currently working with a budget of about $400,000.
“The campaign so far has been contributed to by St Lucia, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Martinique and Jamaica. Those are the countries that have so far put their money down to get to a budget that is at the moment around $400,000,” Riley said.
Addressing the performance of the industry over the past year, D’Aguilar said there was a sense of optimism and confidence in the Caribbean’s tourism industry, despite a difficult post-hurricane period.
“While the region was galloping along last year at a phenomenal pace that was well over the global average. Arrivals took, as you can imagine, a massive hit in the last quarter from hurricanes Irma and Maria, and even Harvey that impacted southern United States.
“The slowdown continued into the first quarter of this year, with figures compiled by the CTO from member countries showing the region received an estimated 8.2 million international visitors during that period, approximately half a million fewer than the same period in 2017, or a 6.2 per cent decline,” he said.
However, he announced that some countries that were unaffected by the storms recorded double-digit growth.
“The Commonwealth countries group led growth across the sub-regions with international tourist arrivals up 11.1 per cent by the end of the quarter.
“Regarding source markets, Canada was the best performer with a 6.6 per cent increase, while Europe grew by 2.2 per cent. And the signs are that the Caribbean is on the mend, as indicated by the fact that while the numbers decreased in the first quarter, there were improvements, as each month was better than the previous one,” D’Aguilar added.