Pablo Torres, the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), predicted the Caribbean will see a return of tourism to the region, “faster than many parts of the world,” thanks to the protocols and partnerships implemented throughout the region to help lessen the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Averring 2021 would be a year of recovery, Torres declared, “Tourism is our key to recovery, to restoring the livelihood of thousands of employees in our industry, to reopening our doors, and welcoming our guests.” In addition to replenishing tax revenues to cash-strapped governments, Torres noted that a tourism revival would refresh and renew “the minds, bodies and spirits of millions of travelers who will discover that the Caribbean is the best place on earth to recover from the ravage of this pandemic.”
Describing COVID-19 as an unprecedented challenge, he applauded the Caribbean’s rapid response to the pandemic, which helped to contain the spread of the virus more effectively than many other parts of the world. He saluted the “countless health heroes” whose dedication and sacrifices had averted a great deal of human suffering and have helped to set the stage for the economic recovery the region will be experiencing in the coming months.
Torres commended not only health care professionals but also front- and back-of- house workers across many industries, including tourism, airports and airline personnel, immigration and customs officers, and ground transportation workers: ”You have led by example, providing exemplary services while adhering to essential health safety protocols. We are all in debt to your service.”
The hospitality industry veteran lauded CHTA’s “key partners in health”, including National Hotel and Tourism Associations, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization, and the World Travel and Tourism Council: “Through collaboration and sharing insights and expertise we all help one another.”
From territory- and country-specific COVID-19 testing requirements and stringent cleaning and sanitization protocols in place at accommodations providers to social distancing and face mask policies and rules limiting capacity at restaurants and other gathering places, Torres noted that the Caribbean hospitality sector has gone to great lengths to protect and ensure the health and safety of both residents and visitors.
Recalling that the Caribbean and its tourism sector has weathered many crises over the years and has always rebounded, Torres described 2020 as a year when CHTA members were challenged to do more with less, including significant revenue shortfalls.