By Frank Martin
Before the global pandemic began in 2019, more than 32 million tourists from other regions of the world visited the Caribbean Islands annually.
In 2020 the pandemic, at its peak, caused those arrivals to plummet by 65.5%.
Such statistics justify that after a 2021 of great doubts and a 2022 that has laid more solid foundations for recovery, analysts are hopeful with 2023 but still uneasy about the near future.
An expert resource is to save the firm numbers for better times and be frank now: arrivals may approach their pre-pandemic levels this year only in Europe and the Middle East.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has already estimated that by 2023 international tourist arrivals could be between 80% and 95% of those levels.
But the prognosis depends -according to the entity- on how a persistent economic slowdown behaves in the world.
The situation of the pandemic in China and its influence on the leisure industry and the evolution of the persistent war in Ukraine, among other problems, are mentioned as situations to follow.
Despite the doubts, the figures are not pessimistic.
According to UNWTO, more than 900 million tourists made international trips in 2022, twice as many as in 2021 but 63% less than pre-pandemic levels.
The most refreshing example was Europe with 585 million arrivals last year. The Americas, including the Caribbean, achieved 65% restoration last year compared to 2019.
These results and the studies of the immediate future led the world tourism organization to anticipate that 2023, in general terms, will be a good year for the important universal economic branch.
However, the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, preferred to adjust to the uncertainty still in force, noting that the good year has been foreseen taking into account “several challenges”.
The two main streams of these challenges are the global economic situation and the continuing geopolitical uncertainty, he estimated.
The forecast of 2023 as a possible “good year” is duly justified.
For example, despite the uncertainty in China due to the pandemic, that country has opened the doors for its tourists to travel again.
The Asian country was the largest issuing market in the world in 2019 and no one doubts that it will occupy that position again sooner rather than later.
But specialized criteria observe that not only will the Covid-19 situation have to be overcome in the Asian giant, but also in the countries that receive Chinese tourists, with a group of those nations already applying restrictions.
The most relaxed forecasts refer to tourist-emitting markets such as the United States, which for the moment enjoys a strong dollar, and Europe, which is experiencing a boom with the arrival of American vacationers who take advantage of the weak euro.
The analyzes cannot ignore some undeniable negative factors such as lower traveler spending, shorter stays in holiday destinations and the preponderance of trips to more expensive destinations. expensive.
As for the Caribbean, the positive forecasts coincide, such as those that support increases in arrivals to the region of tranquility and reasonable prices to which is added in the cases of the United States and Canada the geographical proximity.
In other words, the bets are for Yes.