Within the framework of the recently concluded 41st edition of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the president of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Minister of Tourism of the Cayman Islands, Kenneth Bryan, chipped in his own views on the state of the Caribbean tourism industry; an opinion that emphasized the magnificent recovery that the sector has experienced after the pandemic - a world leader -, but also repaired in other challenges they face, such as poor air connectivity between Caribbean countries or the generalised rise in prices.
"The Caribbean is going through some transitions, but in a positive way; the pandemic affected us, but it also allowed us to reflect a more sustainable approach," Bryan began, referring to the Global Tourism Resilience Conference 2023, an event held in Jamaica in February this year, focused on reflecting on investing in tourism through sustainability.
"Sustainability is a major focus, and it is something we are reflecting through our organization. We will be announcing more initiatives that we will be undertaking in the future," he said. Bryan also took the opportunity to comment on the new additions to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation: the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bermuda, in January and May of this year, respectively.
"My intention as president is to reach the highest number of members ever in the organisation; we are stronger the more members that make up the CTO, as it allows us to have more information, as well as more turnover, especially for those smaller islands that have more difficulty when it comes to conducting market research."
In that sense, he stressed the importance of studying the industry and its behaviour when building a country's tourism strategy. "Tourism is no shot in the dark, it relies on a lot of data and analysis, to make sure you understand the customer and their needs. And that's the core subject matter that the CTO offers its members."
The CTO is also responsible for organising promotional and showcase events for member destinations, a calendar of activities that Bryan outlined in his speech at the Caribbean Travel Marketplace. If in a little over a month the sector will go to the ‘Big Apple’ for the "Caribbean Week in New York", in order to showcase the region's tourism offerings to the press and North American operators, in the fall of this year, specifically from October 8 to 14, the industry will go to the Turks and Caicos Islands to organize its State of the Industry Conference.
"Air connectivity is a huge concern for CTO members," Bryan said when asked about this issue that has been affecting countries in the region in recent years. We have been working hand in hand with the Caribbean Development Bank to develop both immediate and long-term solutions." he went on by arguing: “The issue of air connectivity is not only related to the tourism market, but goes far beyond the sector, as it influences growth, the economy, family travel...
“It is something we have to work on together; working on short-term solutions while we wait for long-term solutions”.