Caribbean Doubles Tourism Budget
The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund aims to educate travelers about the region’s recovery.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) recently doubled its marketing campaign budget to $20 million. The funding comes from a collaboration between the public and private sectors, including a pledge from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The campaign aims to show that the region is ready for visitors after the 2017 hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria. “The Caribbean is a fantastic collection of distinct territories, and historically it has been marketed as a single brand,” says John Dishinger, director of business development at RCI. But that approach can be a detriment when a few countries are affected by a natural disaster while others remained unscathed. “Many consumers that don’t have clarity on the extent of the damage and recovery thus avoid traveling to the region.”
According to CTO data, Caribbean hotel occupancy was down almost 2 percent year-over-year for January and February 2018, even though more than 90 percent of the region’s hotel-room inventory was back in business at the end of February. In anticipation of the beginning of the long-term campaign (starting with the slogan “The Caribbean won’t be washed away”), the CTO launched CaribbeanTravelUpdate.com to give travelers preliminary news and let them know that more than 70 percent of the region was unaffected by the storms.
Shola Taylor, the secretary general of the CTO, initially projected in October 2017 that $10 million would be adequate, but upon assessing how many popular countries were affected by the storms, revised the budget to market the region long-term.
The first phase of the campaign was slated to launch in June 2018, with the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) jointly managing the fund under the title of the Caribbean Coalition for Tourism. It’s an ideal partnership: The CHTA is focused on immediate recovery efforts, creating a jobs bank to match candidates impacted by the hurricanes with tourism-related employment opportunities, while the CTO is thinking long-term with a climate change awareness campaign that fosters discussion on climate resilience and sustainability both regionally and internationally. “The CTO has a long history in the region, and there should be confidence that with the resources and experience it has, this effort will have a positive impact,” Dishinger says.
Image credit: iStockphoto