US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association

Dear Industry Partners:

Re: Traveler Health Safety Assurances Key to Recovery

Presently, there is no clear consensus on when we will return to pre-pandemic travel performance, which is difficult to project due to the unknown recovery period from the pandemic and an expected severe global recession.

Most industry experts acknowledge that tourism’s recovery will take time. There is also strong agreement based upon consumer research and looking at historical trends that the industry’s recovery will be slow and is likely to begin this summer, with substantially reduced activity.

We’ve seen data ranging from a return to occupancy levels above 50 percent as early as mid-2021 to it taking two or more years to see us through recovery.

This week we’ve added to theCHTA Covid-19 Resource Center reports from Tourism Economics and the International Air Transport Association earlier in the week and a recent report by STR.

The reports look to the travel outlook for the remainder of 2020, next year and beyond. As stay at home orders relax and are eliminated and travel restrictions are lifted, it shows a slow return of consumer confidence with a small percentage of the population open to travel as early as 30 days after lifting, and within six months consumer travel confidence rising with nearly three-quarters of the travelling public wanting to travel.

How quickly this bounce back extends to non-domestic travel remains to be seen, but the research is also showing that the comeback in international travel will begin with short-haul trips, which bodes well for the Caribbean, particularly in recapturing business from the US and Canada. It also shows Europeans likely coming out sooner than consumers from North America.

With an estimated 43 percent of cancellations opting to rebook according to CHTA’s recently completed survey, we will see some bump from that group as well.

Insights from CHTA’s survey of members which was completed on April 15th also shows that 69 percent of the region’s hotels which are presently closed anticipate reopening between now and the end of July.

How quickly and how strongly we recover business is directly tied to our ability to provide assurances and confidence to the public that getting on an airplane and traveling beyond the confines of home is safe.

We sell ‘peace of mind’. Now is the time to take a critical inventory of all aspects of your business operation from the eyes of the traveler and to ask ourselves, ‘are we providing peace of mind’? Are your health safety protocols considering every possible encounter point between employees, with guests and suppliers and vendors who are on property? What measures are in place to demonstrate health safety procedures during checkin and checkout, in the elevator, around the pool and beach, in the restaurant and around the bar and nightclub? Are your guest activities and amenities ‘safe’? Do you need to suspend certain activities like spa services for now?

These are questions to address now and require a massive effort by every public-facing tourism business and independent operator (especially taxis and vendors) now and in the coming weeks. Prospective guests will want that assurance….that peace of mind.

CHTA is working with its partners, in particular the Caribbean Public Health Agency, towards putting in place recommended health safety guidelines for hotels and tourism-related businesses which consider Covid-19. We will be sharing those recommended guidelines which we hope can be part of a regional effort which all hotels and tourism-industry stakeholders participate in.

Our success in recapturing business and accelerating recovery is tied to our ability to ready our employees and businesses to be healthy, safe and clean. Our protocols and training must first and foremost ensure our employees are aware of and adhering to sound health safety practices – for their own protection and confidence as well as that of our guests.

We invite you to visit the CHTA Covid-19 Resource Center. This past week we’ve added the above mentioned data reports and other resources, including updated travel advisories by Caribbean destinations and a recording from our webinar on Insurance which offers sound insights and advice about coverage, challenges, and cost saving measures related to the pandemic. We’ve also added new resources from our strategic partner Amadeus providing fresh insights on revenue management, managing group business and other operational considerations during this period of crisis.

Stay tuned for details on our upcoming webinars, including one focused later this coming week on Airlift and the outlook for the Caribbean.