For the Caribbean, Tourism Is the Key

Excelencias from the Caribbean & the Americas - - Carta Del Editor / Publisher's Note -

Ex­ce­len­cias Turís­ti­cas del Caribe y las Améri­cas lands at the 40 World Travel Mar­ket, one of the most im­por­tant fairs of the tourism in­dus­try (along with FITUR in Madrid and TITB in Ber­lin), with the rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the ex­pec­ta­tion of the coun­tries of the Caribbean and the Amer­i­cas. The events comes of age with the as­pi­ra­tion that 50,000 pro­fes­sion­als from the travel in­dus­try, 9,000 buy­ers, 5,000 ex­hibitors and 3,000 jour­nal­ists from more than 180 dif­fer­ent coun­tries, at­tend it. And it is a tremen­dous pride to share our spe­cial is­sue within its frame­work.

And it hap­pens when the Caribbean will close 2019 with an up­trend in ar­rivals and re­in­forces the fact that it is a grow­ing des­ti­na­tion, amid chal­lenges as di­verse as the scourge of hur­ri­canes that have rav­aged it, the out­come of the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions in the UK, and even the bank­ruptcy of larger-thanlife Thomas Cook, with 178 years of op­er­a­tions as a travel agency, which has pounded des­ti­na­tions like Bar­ba­dos and Ja­maica.

The chal­lenge now ex­pe­ri­enced by the Ba­hamas in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Do­rian — bring­ing the cap­i­tal Nas­sau and other tourism spots back in op­er­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble— is the same one that has his­tor­i­cally faced the re­gion. Fol­low­ing the pas­sage of Irma and Maria in 2017, which wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, es­pe­cially in Puerto Rico, the hard-stricken tourism in­dus­try was pre­dicted to take about four years to re­cover. Just two years later, they have more than 90 per­cent of their ho­tel stocks open and largely re­stored. More­over, Cuba was re­cov­ered af­ter a laud­able re­con­struc­tive ef­fort in all the ho­tels on the keys the north of the ar­chi­pel­ago, and man­aged to keep them run­ning.

Faced with months of marked by the great­est in­flow of tourists, which is the win­ter sea­son, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Cuba and Puerto Rico ex­pe­ri­ence, be­tween the months of Au­gust and Oc­to­ber, a re­mark­able growth. The Do­mini­can Repub­lic keeps lead­ing the pack with more than 6 mil­lion vis­i­tors, even if it does not reach its own ex­pec­ta­tion of peak­ing 10 mil­lion. Cuba comes next with more than 4 mil­lion, in spite of the siege of the U.S. block­ade. Ja­maica fol­lows in the foot­steps with more than 3 mil­lion.

This is what Cuba did, where sev­eral events hap­pened in the midst of a tem­po­rary en­er­getic sit­u­a­tion. A good case in point is the IX Ex­ce­len­cias Gourmet In­ter­na­tional Gas­tro­nomic Sem­i­nar, the Va­radero Gourmet or the in­ter­na­tional call to host the Cuba Sabe Work­shop... Noth­ing es­sen­tial stopped, and as Cuban Min­is­ter of Tourism Manuel Mar­rero Cruz put it, "the func­tion­ing of our tourism has not been lim­ited, nor the hold­ing of sev­eral in­ter­na­tional events". Havana will be home next year to the Ibero-amer­i­can Sum­mit for Ac­ces­si­ble Tourism in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, an ef­fort to raise aware­ness among gov­ern­ments and tourism en­ti­ties on the need to pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and im­pair­ments, thus piec­ing to­gether re­cre­ational trips in ho­tels and trails. .

WTM will give us new clues to ex­plore the roads ahead around the world, be­cause as far as de­vel­op­ment in the Caribbean is con­cerned, tourism is the key today.

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