Saturday 24 October, 2020

Positive outlook for tourism sector as hotel occupancy rises

Things are looking up for the hotel sector in the Caribbean as the region gears up for the start of the winter season.

Frank Comito, Chief Executive Officer of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), said they are seeing an increase in bookings in the accommodation sector.

Speaking at a Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) webinar on Wednesday, Comito said they are seeing a slight uptick with STR reporting occupancy levels slightly above 20 per cent for 13 destinations whose borders are open.

“It is about what we anticipated. We anticipated through the summer we would be running around 20 to 30 per cent in occupancy for the properties that are open,” he said.

He said bookings are moving at a pace that will put the region on a track to run as high as 40 per cent till the end of the year and possibly close to 70 per cent in the early months of 2021.

“We are seeing a lot of advanced bookings and some of us are protected by the fact that we have strong cancellation policies in place and that provides some sense of insurance that if things change the travellers are protected," he said.

Comito said one of the factors contributing to the bump in occupancy is a healthy intra-Caribbean and within destination travel and stays at hotels.

He said Belize, for example, reported 70 per cent occupancy from locals travelling within the country and staying at hotels.

Giving an outline of COVID-19 situation in the Caribbean, Dr Lisa Indar, Head of the Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP) and Foodborne Diseases at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), said there are just under 200,000 cases in the region with 17 per cent of countries are showing no new cases, 20 per cent showing sporadic cases, 29 showing clusters and 33 per cent showing community spread.

Dr Indar said there is no evidence to show travel was involved in community spread in the islands that are experiencing it even though it started somewhere.

She said precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands must be adhered to at the community level.

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