42nd Caribbean Travel Marketplace kicks off in Jamaica

Canadian arrivals into the Caribbean are outpacing the growth from the US market. The 42nd Caribbean Travel Marketplace kicked off in Montego Bay yesterday with the third annual Caribbean Travel Forum, where a state of the industry address provided insights into how the region was performing.

Nicola Madden-Greig, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, shared the latests results showcasing that Canadian arrivals saw a 14 per cent increase in the first half of 2024 compared to 2023, while Toronto paved the way with a 23 per cent increase. Meanwhile, the United States sat at a 12 per cent. 

“We have not only recovered [from pre-pandemic levels] we have grown,” said Madden-Greig. “Everyone was saying 2023 was revenge travel, it’s a fluke, once the rest of the world opens up the Caribbean would probably lose that share, but we have maintained our share with everyone else coming back into the market.”

Growing Caribbean tourism

Over the next few days nearly 1,000 buyer and supplier delegates will connect for one-on-one meetings at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. Last night an official opening party at Rose Hall kicked of the festivities with local bites, a drone show, and a variety of entertainment including a performance by Jamaican artist Tessanne Chin, season 5 winner of NBC’s The Voice. 

“Around 150 supplier companies from over 15 Caribbean destinations, such as Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and many others, have registered,” added Madden-Greig, who is marking her last Marketplace as CHTA president. “Eighty-six buyer companies from countries like Estonia, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, the UK, and the US have registered so far – more than double the number last year. Events like Caribbean Travel Marketplace allow us to collectively shape the future of Caribbean hospitality.”

Affonso-Dass named Caribbean Hotelier of the Year

During the CHTA awards yesterday, Patricia Affonso-Dass, group general manager of Ocean Hotels Group in Barbados, was named Caribbean Hotelier of the Year.

“The Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award, one of the highest honours bestowed by CHTA,” said Madden-Greig.

Affonso-Dass served as CHTA president from 2018 to 2020 and has worked in the hospitality and tourism sector for 30 years.

“Patricia’s exceptional leadership was instrumental in steering the association through this period of uncertainty and recovery,” Vanessa Ledesma, CHTA’s acting CEO and director general. “Her deep-rooted support for the development of Caribbean people has been exemplified throughout her career, as she’s discovered and developed countless local talent, mentoring and guiding them, with many moving on to positions of senior management and leadership in the industry.”

One Caribbean

As the CHTA represents 32 member countries, Madden-Greig stressed the importance of working together as a region.

“We are trying not to compete against each other but support each other and move forward as a destination as a region to really combine our own marketshare and grow the region in general and that’s really what we focus on at CHTA,” she said.

With a range of accommodation options from three-star properties to high-end villas, she said the Caribbean has something that attracts pretty much anyone in the market. Notably, she says the all inclusive premium segment is performing very well.

“I’m truly energized by the potential I see for Caribbean tourism,” she told PressToday. “With over 59,000 new hotel rooms in the pipeline per STR data, bolstering regional cooperation, and adopting sustainable practices will be critical for managing this growth responsibly.”