The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity for the Caribbean to upgrade its tourism product, according to Frank Comito, the CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Speaking on a recent Foreign Press Association webinar, Comito explained how the Caribbean hospitality sector and destinations are marshaling their crisis management experience to be able to bounce back stronger and better once the pandemic has subsided.
Comito commended resort owners for using the opportunity to refresh their offerings and facilities and – at a social distance – train staff on advanced aspects of the sector while the region remains closed to new visitors.
Comito described the initiatives which CHTA, working in partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency, put in place as of January.
The measures built upon previous efforts to address health threats with training, information sharing and signing up hotels to participate in an online health monitoring platform which was developed several years ago by the health agency.
He pointed to research coming out of the World Travel and Tourism Council and Oxford Economics research following the 2017 hurricanes showing that the Caribbean tourism sector recovered to pre-hurricane levels faster than anticipated, after returning with a new and improved product.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association chief said the Caribbean tourism sector had a proven ability to rebound strongly from adversity, after developing resilience from experiences including 9/11, Zika, hurricanes, chikungunya, volcano eruptions and earthquakes.
“The data clearly shows we bounced back better and stronger … there’s every reason to believe we will be resilient once again,” he said.
The CHTA chief urged tourism stakeholders to take advantage of COVID-19 resources set up by CHTA to contain the spread of the virus in the region, and laid out on the CHTA COVID-19 Resource Center, which covers everything from readiness to handling cancellations