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Call of the Caribbean wins over COVID-19

Caribbean Tourism Organisation, UK & Europe is organising virtual road shows on September 15 and 16 for agents in the UK and Ireland, as a part of the Caribbean Roadmap to Recovery programme, as demand for travel to this regions is tipped to increase in the coming months.

September will see plenty of increased engagement with travel consultants, as the Caribbean destinations reopen the borders to international tourists. https://mxm.mxmfb.com/rsps/m/yT8_Em0d8K-A6by9-3OEo0n_-W1tMMF6X9bFZs7u1fU

At the Caribbean Roadmap to Recovery post-Covid-19 webinar, Carol Hay director of marketing UK & Europe, Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said: “Caribbean Tourism saw a growth of 4.4% in business in 2019, two years after the tornado, with as many as 30.5 million visitors, of which 1.3 million were from the UK. But the steady growth of visitors which continued till Jan-Feb 2020, saw a steep decline in future bookings by 50%-60% after the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The webinar focused on how COVID-19 had affected the panellists and their perceptions of travel.

Lisa Minot, from The Sun newspaper, said that despite the appetite for travel skyrocketing, it is going to be a challenging endeavour for Caribbean to match up to the demand: “For the consumers it is going to be an issue of trust, as in the recent past, there was a lack of information about the Caribbean, during the COVID-19 outbreak, and many people could not get their money back for the cancelled trips.”

"The lack of cruise ships is another major problem, which makes it a long, uncomfortable flight as the only option left to visit the Caribbean,” Ms Minot said.

Regarding her recent flight experience, Lisa added: “I do feel a lot safer now, knowing that the air is being changed every two to three mins, instead of two to three hours. But I don’t see a lot of demand among people, as they are too afraid to go on staycations even in the UK.”

Maria Pieri from National Geographic shared similar concerns about flights and the airport experience for travellers post-lockdown: “We are looking at staycations now. At present we need more information about temperature screenings and whether people are expected to wear a mask for eight hours daily. We also need to get the information out about what is open on the destination, once the people arrive there.”

The webinar also gave a round-up of updates from Caribbean destinations:

Grenada

Grenada is preparing for a phased reopening of the borders to low risk countries on July 15. Flights from the UK will be allowed to land in the country from August 1. The tourism authorities will be marketing Grenada through campaigns targeted at different travellers, including those visiting friends and family and those looking at medium-term travel. As a marketing strategy, a Spotify playlist of feel-good songs chosen by The Elite Island Resorts Team has been released to promote Caribbean tourism, along with plans to launch holiday packages scheduled for the later part of 2020 and early 2021.

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic has opened its borders on July 1, along with limited occupancy in hotels with more than 500 rooms. As international flights resume from August 2, including the British Airways flight to Punta Cana, room availability will be increased by 50% in August and 75% in September. The main focus for the Dominican Republic will be outdoor holidays, as well as the wedding and honeymoon markets, which have been put on hold. Ocean Club International and Marriott International are planning to open three properties on the North Coast, namely Ocean Club, Sosua in October 2020, W Escape, Cabarete on December 2022, La Boca, A Ritz Carlton Reserve in December 2022. Coming events include the PGA Golf Championship at Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club in September, Master of the Ocean, Cabarete from February 23 to 28, 2021, whale-watching season in Jan-March  2021, Carnival in February and ProCigar Festival in February 2021.  

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are already open to domestic staycations and will open to international tourists after September 1. The island group has 365 different dive spots and 220 restaurants, and has become more accessible with a tie-up between Virgin Atlantic and Cayman Air, and direct British Airways flights from Heathrow. Owen Roberts International Airport has reopened with a new terminal. Last 2019, the destination received more than 500,000 visitors. 

Jamaica

Jamaica offers the rare luxury of living in a tree house type guest room at the adults-only resorts at Sunset at The Palms group, which are opening today (July 9). They have acquired very recently, a family resort called Welcome to Sunset Beach which has equal amenities and activities for kids and teenagers to relax and play, including water park, land and water sports, and a wide variety of cuisines to choose from and spa and salon facilities in the spacious two towers, located only 6 Kms from Sangster International Airport. There is a special VIP Butler programme called Meet & Greet and Fast Track Arrival, included for all guests who choose a beach front room category at Sunset, which offers guests a hassle free, queue less paper work and formalities after arrival, with the help of a specially assigned attendant.

Image credit: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay


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