The Caribbean is poised to receive a record 30 million visitors for 2016.
Barbados’ Tourism Minister and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Richard Sealy, made this disclosure on Wednesday evening during the opening ceremony of the CTO’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) 2016, at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Mr. Sealy stated that even in the face of competition from other regions, including the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, it was “very encouraging” to note that there were few sectors which have shown the type of resilience of the tourism industry.
He continued: “In the face of all of this, the region saw 28.7 million visitors in 2015. That was an increase of seven per cent over 2014, and in fact was a record in terms of the number of arrivals to the region. Twenty-sixteen is pacing ahead of 2015 and for the first time, we will see 30 million visitors to the region.”
However, while acknowledging that the CTO could take pride in these numbers and its ability to respond appropriately to the demands of the regional sector, the Tourism Minister cautioned that the competition was “getting more intense” and the sector must be prepared for these actualities going forward.
“As encouraged as we are by the results and far how we’ve come, we need to accept the realities that must be grasped going forward…eight and-a-half years ago when the late David Thompson invited me to be in his Cabinet, there was no such thing as Airbnb, there was no such thing as Uber; BREXIT also did not exist….
“These are the realities as we define our future and draw on our multiple strengths, and continue to recognise the power and the legacy that has led to the success of Caribbean tourism,” Mr. Sealy stated.
The annual SOTIC provides an opportunity for Caribbean tourism practitioners and other strategic partners to discuss existing issues within the regional sector and identify the best courses of action for the benefit of the industry.
SOTIC 2016 is being held under the theme: Honouring Our Legacy: Defining Our Future, and will run until Friday, September 16.