“Caribbean Travel Landscape Changed Forever”

July 1, 2015

Calling it the “biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years,” the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association [CHTA] has released a position paper on the impact for the wider tourism industry due to the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens.

The paper said, “The CHTA expects that those islands and countries nearest to Cuba will feel the greatest ripple effects and believes it would be wise for them to begin planning ways to mitigate those effects now.

“As for the other destinations in the Caribbean, the CHTA is of the view that the consequences might be more muted but in the end the total Caribbean travel landscape will be changed forever.

“The Caribbean, the most tourism dependent region in the world could use a good shaking up. For decades, with few exceptions, it has relied on its natural advantages of sun, sand, sea, welcoming populations and, more than anything else, its relative proximity to the United States, the largest economy on earth, for much of its success

“Cuba has already experienced an immediate increase in visitors from all around the world. Due to a ‘time capsule effect’ there are a number of tourist that are motivated to see Cuba before development changes the Cuban character that has been protected for many years.

“Cultural and Adventure travelers are already making their way to Cuba in ever increasing numbers. Being the first in your neighborhood to visit Cuba with the accompanying bragging rights is also motivating travelers to see Cuba.

“So those countries whose focus has been on the United States as their primary source market and who have not felt any competition from Cuba in the United States and who might have been lulled into believing that Cuba is a greenhorn at tourism, will be surprised at how sophisticated and effective the Cuban marketing machine has become.

The paper added that approvals for ferry services from Florida to Cuba “only accentuate the closeness of the country to that state,” saying that ferry services, should it include the option for Americans to bring their own vehicles “could create an interesting niche.”

“There is general agreement that the opening of Cuba will have an immediate impact on the cruise industry,” the paper adds.

“The cruise sector which has been lobbying the wider Caribbean to develop products and experiences beyond sun and sea, gives Cuba an opportunity to present itself as a more diversified destination.

“The major cruise companies have a well-established track record of successfully investing in new port infrastructure, and quickly establishing new or improved ports of call,” the CHTA said, and the “likelihood that cruise lines will drop some existing ports to accommodate Cuba port visits is real.”

The opening of Cuba will also impact the investment outlook for the wider Caribbean region “causing a chilling effect on investing in the Caribbean,” the paper said.

“The fact that Cuba saw over $800 million in hotel-related investments in 2013 is a sobering thought. The Caribbean and its industry will find itself not only competing for American tourists but also for investment dollars.”

The full CHTA paper follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (29)

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  1. swing voter says:

    Kiss Tourism goodbye folks! Like Sir John insinuated we better find another gimmick quickly.

    • We wanted Bermuda to attract the rich and famous,so that’s what we’ve got.
      We cant compete with the Caribbean because our target does not include the average blue color worker.

      • Mike says:

        And where has that gotten us?

        • It got us the title as the Laid Back Boring Island.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          It isn’t that we don’t target the blue collar worker, it’s that the cost of business here make it prohibitive to target the blue collar worker as we cannot compete on rates with the carribean. an employee with the lowest skilled job in the hotel industry here makes 3 to 4 times more than the same in the carribean… even more. And that moves right up the salary rates, which means our room rates are naturally higher to cover those higher costs… and that is just payroll effect, you add utilities and supplies’ expenses. So it isn’t that we don’t target blue collar tourism, it’s that we have to target markets that can more readily afford us.

          • And it cost 3 to 4 times and MORE to live in Bermuda, so what that gotta do with the price of rice in China.
            The Caribbean is much cheaper and much more liberal fun.
            We promoted Bermuda as a tranquil laid back British resort and now we’re realizing that, that’s not what market is attracting.
            Not too long ago Hanbury separated us from the Caribbean and now he see’s that he didn’t have a clue about our heritage, he wants to promote Caribbean flavor.
            What a F!@#ing JOKE.

        • Staffernee says:

          Those type of (cruise ship) tourists don’t spend money on the island anyway.

          We can’t have economic success selling $25 t-shirts while the tourist eat all their meals on the ship, and get all their entertainment on the ship.

          $100 is the MAX one of these blue collar tourists will spend in any shop – that’s probably their daily budget.

          We need to target airplane tourists

    • Regina says:

      Thank God we have International Business and are able and willing to import skilled foreign talent…. oh, wait…

  2. mumbojumbo says:

    You will just have decriminalise marijuana ….before you naysay…please be advised it is the money people behind the dealers….that are the only ones adverse tuit……if you knew who they were…you must also know the reason we have addicts are because of the additives they currently and have for many many years put intuit…that creates the abhorrent behaviour and addicting…we could regulate it out …tax it luxury tax…and build Bermudas tourism back up….been to Holland?….they always are chockah block with visitors and money…..there are visitors that would see Bermuda as an alternative to expensive travel there…

  3. We must be extremely vigilant if we wish to remain competitive in the cruise line industry. Note: “The cruise sector which has been lobbying the wider Caribbean to develop products and experiences beyond sun and sea, gives Cuba an opportunity to present itself as a more diversified destination.
    “The major cruise companies have a well-established track record of successfully investing in new port infrastructure, and quickly establishing new or improved ports of call,” the CHTA said, and the “likelihood that cruise lines will drop some existing ports to accommodate Cuba port visits is real.”
    The opening of Cuba will also impact the investment outlook for the wider Caribbean region “causing a chilling effect on investing in the Caribbean,” the paper said. “The fact that Cuba saw over $800 million in hotel-related investments in 2013 is a sobering thought. The Caribbean and its industry will find itself not only competing for American tourists but also for investment dollars…
    Bermuda Government along with all Bermudians have a role to play in retaining our international image.

    • Our international image is $$$$$

      • Years ago we had majority of locals working in the hospitality industry where you had repeat and generational visitors interacting with the locals in the industry, now you need a translator to interact with the industry workers.

  4. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    Where is the Northeast corridor marketing? Ask anyone you know from the East coast if they have seen any ads for Bermuda, you will be disappointed. Iceland, yes, Bermuda no. Three hours from wheels up to feet in the sand, nobody else can offer what Bermuda does, if it’s offered . . .

  5. Triangle Drifter says:

    Bermuda’s worst tourism nightmare is coming to life.

    You were warned many times from many years ago. The warnings were ignored.

    • We were warned when we complained during the College week era, how they were breaking stuff and fining them all their spending money for a joint, so the other islands that tolerate them got the business.

  6. Ed Case says:

    If ever we needed to provide a competitive product, it is now. We need gaming, car rentals, night life. We currently have none.

    Your (our) choice Bermuda.

    • Staffernee says:

      Milennials enjoy ethical vacations. We need greener transportation with more “natural” resorts of beach huts etc and put a focus on the natural beauty and “wild side” of Bermuda with hiking and diving packages.

  7. Ed Case says:

    Americans (our core market) will flock to Cuba for the music, cigars, old cars, gaming, car rentals, good timing night life. All the things we don’t provide because we have completely lost our competitive edge.

    When it comes to these items Bermudidans just moan about how it will inconvenience them. They completely forget that it is the tourist we need to serve – if in fact we want to be in the tourist business.

    Bermuda needs to decide before our product is eroded any further due to complete apathy.

  8. BERMYGUY says:

    LEGALIZE IT CAUSE ITS SMOKES SO GOOD, LEGALIZE IT CAUSE YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD.

  9. Wonder woman says:

    The problem with Bermuda tourism is that the hotels are outdated, expensive and they do not cater for a family market. Why come here when you can stay in an all inclusive family friendly resort in Cuba or Jamaica for half the cost.

    I agree with Paradise Reclaimed that Bermuda needs a better marketing campaign but what use is that if you are only able to cater for a limited market place. Bermuda has low crime rates and good public transport in comparison to other countries in the Caribbean, yet holiday companies offer cheap affordable breaks to countries where you are locked in compounds. Why? Because they are affordable to the masses.

    Government needs to attract hotel developers who will offer lower cost family accommodations and get some tour operators offering package deals to the island.

    • So we’re paying a Minister of Tourism and the B.T.A., and the C.E.O’s $1000.00 a day salary…… FOR WHAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Thankfully we have the AC35! says:

    Well done OBA and others for securing the AC for our country–as all tourism eyes from the US will be focussed to the south at Cuba and sucking tourists from other Island venues–Bermuda will have a global spotlight shone on it as we host the world’s pre-eminent yaching event and other series–

    The Atlantic Carribbean basin toursim story for the next couple of years will be Cuba and Bermuda hosting the America’s Cup!!!!

    My brethren–this is the Bermuda’s Cup and let’s show the world what we are made of as they tune in and see our beautiful island!!!

    • Are you serious, that’s like having an Epidural injection for curing Cancer.

      • Staffernee says:

        If we play it right it will be very successful – most like we will fumble it.

  11. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Bermuda the island of NO ! NO ! NO !
    An expensive over taxed little island.
    Rule Britannia.

    Why have you all gone so negative.
    All you have to do is up your game in every sector.
    Do what they do but only better.

    Put your guns away.
    Slow down.

    Earn your money for some change.

  12. Ray says:

    Kiss Tourism goodbye. Cuba can also cater to the Rich. With the exception of Cruise Ships coming in from the east coast (Boston, New York). Based on operating costs due to distance Bermuda should continue to corner that market.

    • Staffernee says:

      Cruise ships tourists don’t spend money on the island, and why would they? They can do all their shopping, eat at restaurants, and get entertainment on the ship.