Caribbean tourism officials ended a two-day conference in The Bahamas intending to increase the number of Mexicans travelling to the Caribbean for vacations.
Karolin Troubetzkoy is president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. She runs the Jade Mountain and Anse Chastenet hotel group in St. Lucia.
“We are living in very interesting times and there continue to be developments on the international front, that affect us one way or the other,” Ms. Troubetzkoy said at the Atlantis Resort two weeks ago.
“But Mexico over the last few years has certainly expressed more and more an interest in working closer with the Caribbean, and some of its more affluent travellers appear set to visit this region since the recent fall out over immigration issues with the new U.S. administration.”
Ms. Troubetzkoy said that the issue of airlift remains the major challenge for the region if it is to capitalise on this opportunity.
She said it was just not Mexico but other South American markets such as Columbia and Brazil.
“It is clear to us that our challenge is that the airlift for many destinations is not ideal for Mexicans and other South American travellers who would now obviously prefer to by-pass the U.S. in their travels.
“The traditional gateways via Miami and Atlanta would not be suited, so we need to determine how the airlift out of Mexico, and possibly Columbia and Brazil could be addressed. But while they do have their own carriers and there are gateways via Panama, many Caribbean destinations do not have the airlift required to open up that market.”
The Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2017 at The Atlantis in Nassau, brought together hundreds of tourism enterprises whose representatives meet face to face with wholesalers from around the world selling Caribbean vacation travel. This year’s engagement attracted new buyer companies from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Ireland.
Ms. Troubetzkoy said that her organisation has discussed with private sector representatives and heads of governments on the entire system of intra-regional travel.
“I think the if we embrace an open sky policy, to some extent the connectivity from Mexico in between the islands would allow us to grow market share from that region, but that remains a challenge not having that accessibility sorted out.”
She added: “It will also require a lot of work from the human resource perspective, as many of the English speaking Caribbean seem ill prepared for our Portuguese and Spanish speaking clients.”
“We must look at signage and make a more serious effort to bring language training to our schools but especially to hospitality workers.”
In her assessment of Caribbean Marketplace 2017, she said she was quite pleased with the feedback from the 1,000 odd hoteliers, buyers and tourism enterprises represented.
“Last year there were mixed comments and feelings but this time around most are reported to have had great meetings. Everyone is looking towards 2017 with optimism, the booking pace is up again.”