Nicola Madden-Greig, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), cautioned that despite the significant progress and successes of the Caribbean tourism industry, stakeholders must not allow complacency to set in but keep public-private cooperation at the forefront of all development efforts.
The respected Jamaican hotelier participated in the Caribbean virtual forum marking World Tourism Day. The event was a collaboration between the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and a consortium of regional and international entities, including CHTA.
Drawing from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Economic Impact of Caribbean Tourism report, Madden-Greig shared that the region can nearly double earnings from this industry by 2032.
The Caribbean Travel and Tourism sector could achieve an average annual growth rate of 6.7%, reaching US$96.6 billion in 2032, up from US$50.5 billion in 2022. In terms of employment, travel and tourism jobs in the Caribbean could grow by an average rate of 4.5% annually, creating 1.34 million new jobs by 2032. “To meet or even exceed this target will require the collaborative effort of the public, private sector and every Caribbean national,” she said.
Commenting on this year’s theme, “Investing in People, Planet and Prosperity,” Madden-Greig acknowledged the transformative role of tourism in the Caribbean. She emphasized the initiatives of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation and highlighted the return of the Caribbean Hotel Industry Educational Forum (CHIEF) scheduled for Nov. 30 through Dec. 1 in Miami.
She said, “We have seen hundreds of thousands of Caribbean nationals gain employment at all levels, many rising to the very pinnacle of the industry as general managers, some have become owners of micro, small and even larger tourism-related enterprises with a few becoming regional and international players. While these achievements are notable, we must continue to ensure our people increase their ownership and truly capitalize on the potential of this industry.”
The Hotel and Tourism Association leader further stressed the importance of fostering “generational wealth” through tourism in the Caribbean.
Discussing the need for education and training, she said, “We must collaborate more on developing our people through better training, incorporating new technology and systems to add more relevance to our education programs, and ensuring our youth are prepared to compete at the highest level.”
On protecting the planet, she said, “The tourism industry can be an exemplar, putting in more measures to manage waste, reduce our water and electricity consumption, restore our reefs and mangroves, safeguard our wildlife, and build a culture of preservation and protection. Harnessing the potential of the ‘Blue Economy’ presents a real opportunity for the region. Through tourism, we can play our part in doing this.”
Madden-Greig highlighted the important work of CHTA’s environmental arm, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST), which not only has signed on to the Glasgow climate pact but also is leveraging strategic partnerships with the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre; Caribbean Biodiversity Fund; Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE); Re: Wild, Fauna and Flora International; and the CTO to collectively address these issues.
Regarding the prosperity component of the theme, she emphasized tourism’s indispensable role in the Caribbean’s economy, drawing attention to its contributions to taxes, infrastructure, education, law enforcement and health care. “The opportunity to realize even greater returns from tourism investments is possible if we work together in tackling our challenges.”
She concluded by saying, “We must continually be mindful that tourism must continue to be developed in a responsible manner, protecting and uplifting our planet, respecting and enhancing our environment, and ensuring our people are able to fairly share in the fruits of our collective efforts.”
The virtual forum was a combined initiative of the CTO in collaboration with CHTA, the University of the West Indies, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, and CTO allied members: the International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University and Hibiscus International.