For the Caribbean, Tourism Is the Key
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.