By Benjamin Flowers: The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says it remains positive about the ongoing recovery of regional tourism despite the uncertainty that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is having on global travel at this time, Travel Pulse Reports.
The CTO issued a statement this week, noting that Caribbean destinations have shown great resilience over the past 18 months, adjusting to new requirements, implementing updated travel protocols, and was finally seeing marked recovery in the industry when the omicron variant hit.
Third-quarter 2021 data showed 5.4 million tourist arrivals to the region, which is nearly three times the arrivals for the same period in 2020 when the pandemic was still wreaking havoc on global travel. The figure was still 23 percent below 2019 levels; however, the CTO said that reports suggest the progress continued through to the end of last quarter 2020, leaving estimated arrivals for 2021, between 60 and 70 percent what they were in 2020.
“As we begin 2022, once again grappling with the effects of a new variant which is also affecting international travel adversely, we are heartened by the recovery experiences and the lessons learned in 2021,” the CTO said in the statement. “These experiences and lessons have taught us that travel and hospitality can coexist with the pandemic affecting both our destinations and markets. While the results to date have not indicated a return to 2019 levels, the exceptional results recorded in the summer to year-end period of 2021 show that a scaled or gradual rebound is likely and very possible by the end of 2022.”
The CTO added that the increase in visitor arrivals clearly illustrates the demand for the region’s tourism product and that it is the responsibility of all tourism stakeholders to continue positioning the region to meet that demand.
Breaking Belize News reached out to the Belize Tourism Board for comment on the 2021 year-end estimates for visitor travel, but have yet to receive a response.