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Travel & Tourism

The Caribbean Accommodation Sector

The Caribbean tourism industry, upon which the accommodation sector depends, is the most important economic activity and principal foreign exchange earner for the region. There is still a need to increase the awareness of the Caribbean people of the impor-tance of this industry to the economic and social well being of the region. The Caribbean is more dependent on travel and tourism than almost any other region, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Of the ten countries in the world most reliant on tourism, seven are in the Caribbean.

The accommodation sector in the Caribbean is very varied and includes full service hotels and all-inclusive resorts, integrated hotel and real estate complexes, time-share units, vacation clubs, holiday homes, villas, condominium hotels and apartments, as well as inns and hostels that are more modest. The hotel industry, on its own, comprises large, global hotel-chains, smaller chains and independent hotels.

These are supported by real estate development projects incorporating resorts, second homes, and luxury services such as golf courses and marinas. These services and amenities create the opportunity for the industry to earn profits as visitors to the Caribbean are spending more money on these extra amenities including casinos and spas.

The down side is that Caribbean hotels have high operating costs. According to PKF Consulting USA,

LLC (PKFC) in their 2013 edition of Caribbean Trends® in the Hotel Industry, in 2012, the average Caribbean hotel incurred 20.1 percent greater food and beverage expenses than the average U.S. hotel. As stated by PKFC this is attributable to the fact that importing the necessary food, equipment and supplies to the region is very costly. Utilities continue to be a large expense in the Caribbean as well. Many Caribbean nations lack the infrastructure to produce cost-efficient energy. Offsetting these relatively high costs are the lower labour expense ratios in the Caribbean.

The opportunities for growth in profits in the Caribbean hotel sector have been attracting developers. The biggest new development in the Caribbean region will be the 2,200 room, Bahamas mega-resort Baha Mar, which is scheduled to open in December 2014. These development activities have been taking place while several hotels are undergoing major renovations and improvements.

Airlift is a major consideration for the Caribbean hotel industry. Hoteliers have always stressed the importance of reliable and stable airlift to the region. For new developments to succeed and grow, the Caribbean is in need of increased local and long-distance non-stop flights. However, Antigua, Jamaica and the Bahamas are working diligently to improve air travel, and, as such, have recently expanded their airports.



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