Jamaica, Bahamas see rapid recovery in bookings post-travel advisories Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaica’s booking volumes recovered within four to six weeks in early January following travel advisories issued by the US State Department due to crime and safety concerns, according to data analytics firm ForwardKeys Insights.

This finding was highlighted in ForwardKeys’ Caribbean Travel Trends 2024 report, presented at the Caribbean Travel Forum on Monday.

The Caribbean Travel Forum is a feature of the 42nd Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace, taking place this week at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

Jamaica’s Director of Tourism, Donovan White, emphasised in the report Jamaica’s collaborative efforts with key partners, including travel advisors and hoteliers, to communicate that the advisory level had not increased in several years.

“In both the pandemic and travel advisory cases, we embarked upon a very aggressive marketing campaign, meeting with key tourism stakeholder partners including investors, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and travel agents,” White was quoted as saying.

The swift recovery in booking volumes demonstrated the resilience of traveller sentiment and encouraged destinations to continue their marketing efforts despite the initial dip in US bookings for both Jamaica and the Bahamas following the advisories, the report noted.

Additionally, Jamaica’s high repeat visitor rate of 42 percent underscored consumer confidence in traveling to the island safely.

Nicola Madden-Greig, president of the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association (CHTA), organiser of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, commented on the situation.

 “We have had a little bit of a challenge with the travel advisories, but because we are resilient people, we have done a lot of work and effort to claw back that business,” she told journalists.

Madden-Greig stressed that the advisories created a perception issue rather than reflecting the actual safety of Jamaica and the Bahamas, stating, “on the ground, the reality is that neither Jamaica nor the Bahamas is any less safe; it is even safer than it has ever been.”

Booking volumes recovered to pre-crisis levels within two weeks in the Bahamas.

The 42nd Caribbean Travel Marketplace commenced with the Caribbean Travel Forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, themed “Visioning a New Tourism Landscape for the Caribbean.”

Concurrently, the Caribbean Travel Trends by ForwardKeys noted a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in international arrivals to the Caribbean for the first half of 2024 and an overall growth of 13 per cent compared to 2019. This growth, driven by the post-COVID-19 travel surge, positioned the Caribbean competitively, although it trailed the broader Americas, which saw a 15 per cent growth over the same period.

Meanwhile, Jamaica saw a moderate two per cent increase in travel bookings, reflecting the region’s continued demand and interest.

Madden-Greig highlighted the potential for further growth, contingent on addressing challenges such as airlift capacity.

“The demand and the interest in the Caribbean are exceptional. We can continue to grow; we just have to get some of the challenges out of the way,” she noted.

She also cited multi-destination travel as areas for growth and the need for the region to jointly strategise to get more flights out of Europe.

This year, the CHTA hosted its first multi-destination media trip, designed to illuminate the interconnectedness and diversity across the Caribbean. This initiative seeks showcase the unique experiences spanning St Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. The trip kicked off in St Lucia, with a stopover in Barbados, and brought journalists to Jamaica for the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay, later this week, they will embark on destination experience along Jamaica’s south coast.

“[It’s] really to show and prove how integrated the Caribbean is and how different the experiences are. It’s something we feel that we can offer for the long-haul visitors,” Madden-Greig said.

The Caribbean Travel Marketplace, an annual event, gathers leading regional and international thought leaders to discuss tourism business opportunities and strategies for success in the Caribbean, a pivotal player in the global travel industry.