This article is written by Alejandro Reynal, CEO of Apple Leisure Group
What a difference a year can make. Many across the Caribbean business landscape rightfully describe 2020 as an unprecedented challenge; though as true as this may be, I believe the spirit of the moment is opportunity.
Recently, I was delighted to represent the hotel industry and discuss current opportunities at the 2020 Caribbean Hotel and Resort Investment Summits (CHRIS) Leaders of Travel panel discussion. This panel was moderated by John Fareed, Chairman North America of Horwath HTL, and featured key players of the leisure travel industry such as Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Lines; Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer of American Airlines; and Carolina Narloch Sass de Haro, LATAM Market Analyst at Phocuswright.
While we may have never endured a challenge like this before, we also have never been better prepared to focus on the collaborative efforts necessary to put differences aside. By aligning the organizational efforts of the leisure travel industry, we are affirming our commitment to delivering thorough and resolute recovery to the Caribbean social and economic community.
Leisure and Recreational Travel Bring the World Together
In 2019, the global travel and tourism industry accounted for 10.3% of the worlds total GDP. On April 28, the WTTC projected that this industry would lose as much as 30% of its value, an estimated $2.7 trillion, erased in the blink of an eye. The causes of these losses are a perfect storm of government restriction, changes in consumer attitudes towards travel and the looming uncertainty an international public health crisis creates, across even unrelated areas of the global business community.
However, behind the quantitative data, there is a qualitative story of humanity to remember here. Last year, there were more than 330 million people, 10% of the entire global workforce employed across the entire travel and tourism sector. These individuals and families work for airlines, hotels, tour operators, food suppliers, entertainment groups, management companies and innumerable other interlocking industries that serve the worlds leisure and recreational travel needs.
Across the Caribbean region we serve, earnings from travel account for a higher percentage of local GDP than any other region in the world. Helping the most tourism-dependent region in the world means keeping sight of the bigger picture and the millions of families whose lives depend on our success.
Strengthening Our Business Ecosystem to Deliver Recovery to the Industry
True recovery across the Caribbean will not occur without a thorough reappraisal of the vital human interests guiding the success of our family of destination resorts. As we set our sights to the future, it is imperative that we build on the successes that brought us to the present moment while always staying open to the opportunities available in the current landscape.
As we think and work towards recovery, our focus remains on key areas that help keep track of the rapidly changing situation, while allowing us to take proper care of our employees, guests and partners in the Caribbean and around the world. This continues to be a time of learning, adapting and enhancing the core values driving success across our group.
Communication has always been a foundation of our success. The pandemic has created the impetus for us to enhance this value by refining our corporate culture of transparency and accountability. Our staff, partners and guests depend on us to be able to provide them with details that not only enhance their enjoyment of our properties but also ensure a safe and healthy return.
As a result, we have developed a wealth of new processes to provide our staff, partners and travelers with the options needed to feel safe and secure doing business with us. By enhancing the linkages and spirit of flexibility that connect us to our teams, the communities we operate in and our customers, we are setting the stage for continuous growth.
Currently, there is demand for leisure travel, though fulfillment has been complicated due to shifting regulatory policy, airlift limitations and challenges securing traveler confidence. We are committed to working closely with our partners in government to create the safest and most sustainable conditions for the holistic social and economic recovery of the Caribbean region.
Building on Success: Capitalizing on the Strength of the All-Inclusive Model
Consumers are focused on convenience and flexibility and continue to seek more value for their money. Hence, a vacation model where everything is included is appealing and poised to draw travelers for decades to come. The architecture and locations of our resorts naturally facilitate social distancing: our properties are surrounded by stretches of beautiful, open beach and other diverse outdoor spaces that allow our guests to have remarkably safe and enjoyable stays at our collection of resorts.
Our vision hinges on expanding opportunities in destinations where we have strong distribution channels that drive high occupancy while continuing to develop the hotspots of tomorrow. The unmatched reach of our distribution companies ensures that our products remain at the forefront of the travel agent community and our consumers vacation plans.
Invigorating an Industry: We Are Stronger Together
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has made it abundantly clear that the success of the Caribbean travel industry depends, now more than ever, on successful collaboration between the public and private sectors. Our success depends not only on what we do but also on what happens in destinations, companies and governments where we offer our products.
Delivering recovery to the Caribbean travel industry requires continued partnership with all the stakeholders. Together, we are invigorating the Caribbean travel industry and sustaining economic recovery that impacts individuals and families around the world. Though we may each represent the unique trajectory of our specific companies, it is certain that our collective success uplifts our entire industry as a whole. Together we are stronger.
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