The tourism outlook for the Caribbean varies based on sector dependency and prioritisation initiatives. Markets that established recovery committees early on and engaged in private and public sector initiatives to support the sector are starting to see the benefits come through. These include the Bahamas, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Dominica.
Solutions implemented by the region have emphasised nature and eco-tourism as well as long-stay visas and remote working options. Within the past couple of weeks, Antigua & Barbuda have also vowed to slash airport taxes in order to further stimulate demand.
Health infrastructure will be of increasing importance to visitors, but the region has not invested enough in this, despite branding itself as a safe destination to visit. A tourism researcher was already seeing this change, “Visitors are now undertaking more research into healthcare facilities – not just for COVID but generally. Improving health infrastructure will be important – what is available, and quality of service. Jamaica and the Bahamas are now moving to PCR tests being available over the counter, but that is still a long way off in other markets.”
“Visitors are now undertaking more research into healthcare facilities – not just for COVID but generally. Improving health infrastructure will be important.”
Tourism researcher, Jamaica
Digitalisation is also going to play a major role going forward – from contactless entry at airports, to digital payments and online shopping. The region has made material advancements but needs to keep pushing forward and more investment is required to implement these technologies.
Domestic demand has seen some uplift due to returning nationals but the US remains the region’s key customer generating 60% of its revenue, followed by the UK, Europe and Canada. A regional tourism adviser to various governments explained, “Travel bans implemented by the US last year heavily impacted the market. This year, predictability remains an issue – as the region’s level of vaccination against COVID-19 is not as high as it could be. Therefore, Americans may continue to remain close to home, with compounding issues such as few flights, high costs of long-haul flights, quarantine bills, PCR tests and spending most of your vaccination locked up in a room.”
“Travel bans implemented by the US last year heavily impacted the market. This year, predictability remains an issue – as the regions level of vaccination against COVID-19 is not as high as it could be.”
Regional tourism adviser to various governments
Prior to the pandemic, the region was making a push to move away from resorts, to bring tourists out into the rest of the country, however, the isolation that resorts offer may now be a positive for countries and tourists alike.
The tourism research saw several new trends emerging, “Wellness tourism will increase in its importance in the region – particularly with St. Lucia and Dominica actively positioning themselves as destinations which are safe and will impact visitors’ wellness positively. The appreciation of nature and sustainability as a whole are important. There is a heightened desire to be outside, and with the resurgence of nature due to limited human interaction, there is a lot more care to preserve and be a part of this – so eco-tourism will also be growing in importance in the region. And then there is adventure tourism – the predictions are that the it’s the younger traveller who will be mostly engaged in the near future, and they will be more interested in soft and hard adventure activities.”