…CTO Secretary General tells Bahamas conference
Guyana has recorded the highest increased growth in the tourism sector within the Caribbean region during the first half of 2018.
This came to the fore during the wrap-up session of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) which was held in the Bahamas from October 1-5.
Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley told the audience during a live broadcast on Friday that of the 22 reporting destinations around the Caribbean region, 13 registered increases in growth during the first half of 2018, ranging from 1.7% to 18.35 %. He said 7 countries recorded decreases, the latter figure which was tied to the hurricane season.
He said that the top performing destination during the first half of 2018 was Guyana. Riley said the South American, English-speaking state recorded 18.3% growth followed by Belize, at 17.1% and the Cayman islands at 15.9%.
Arrivals from Europe increased this year also , although marginally , with three million visitors coming to the Caribbean within the first half of 2018. Riley said Guyana , which recorded a 9.3% growth in this regard , came in second in arrivals behind Belize which saw a 24.3 % growth in European tourist arrivals.
Riley said the results substantiate the regional messaging of the openness of the destinations for business and the confidence in destinations to deliver quality experiences.
He said the performances of the key source markets varies considerably, with some destinations recording “strong growth” while others registered declines.
Riley said that tourism over the past year has been a tale of two situations. “On one hand we had robust growth in countries that were affected by last year’s hurricanes, and in the other we have seen dramatic decreases in arrivals in those hit by the hurricanes although performances of those countries are steadily improving,” he said.
Former US President Bill Clinton in a recorded message to the conference noted the critical role, travel and tourism plays in the region. He said that the sector accounts for than 15% of GDP in the region and in many countries the number is much higher.
He said that the CTO is working with the Bill Clinton Foundation and other partners to showcase the region’s extraordinary culture , diversity as well as arts and food. He encouraged the CTO and other stakeholders to explore its crucial work.
The CTO’s leadership was on full display in the Bahamas. Riley said the body brought together exports to craft insights into determine how a lasting, sustainable tourism sector “can be built that will benefit every individual, every community, every country in this region.”
Guyana’s tourism sector has been evolving over the years, with visitors to the region exploring the country’s eco-tourism initiatives. At a recent media breakfast organised by the Guyana Tourism Authority there were calls for more coordination and higher emphasis to be placed on the sector as many noted the impact the sector has made on the economy over the years.