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Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference Shows Optimism for Recovery in Region;
Massive Chinese Investment in Region Garners Most Interest

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (May 17, 2011) - The just-completed "Official" Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) resulted in a variety of general session discussions in which optimism for the recovery of the hospitality and tourism industries was the reigning mood of the week.

Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) President Josef Forstmayr took the opportunity to remind attendees of the huge importance that tourism plays in the overall economic stability of the Caribbean nations and about the Tourism is Key campaign launched by CHTA a year ago to create greater awareness of the impact of tourism on the local economies across the region.

Forstmayr said: "A successful tourism development program requires several factors. Most prominent among these are investment, product development and promotions ...... Caribbean tourism leaders must come together to attract the necessary investments which will be needed to allow the Caribbean to maintain its attractiveness and visibility in a highly competitive industry."

CHTA President Josef Forstmayr
Forstmayr noted that "air lift is one of the top three items on developers' lists when researching investment opportunities.  Affordable air service remains one of our biggest challenges. 

"I am strongly urging all our Caribbean governments to accept this premise.  NOT accepting this clear message will simply lead to no new investors coming to the region, present investments will dry up and go bust, and existing industry will continue to under-perform.

It is time that all our Caribbean governments and the entire private sector get off our collective butts and work together to get over this hurdle.  We are ready for this and we are challenging our governments to join us at CHTA."

Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization noted that "the entire region is replete with examples of local and regional entrepreneurs who have seized the opportunity to sit at the controls of their own destiny.....Nothing builds confidence in the marketplace like seeing locals put their money where their mouth is."
He added: "It is our wish that collaboration in the airline industry within the Caribbean will eventually result in strong, stable, reliable, affordable, and yes, profitable, air service throughout this region."

Jamaica Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett talked about a new post-recession era for the Caribbean suggesting "What was good for the pre-recession cannot cut it for the post-recession.  We have the talent, the resorts, the scenery, the energy and the intellect here to create a blueprint for a new Caribbean."

While the continued softer than expected global economies have been blamed for the slower than expected turnaround in the travel industry, several experts from a wide variety of disciplines expressed continued optimism about future investments and growth in the Caribbean.
Scott Berman, principal with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, moderated several panels in which the overall outlook remained positive for both renewed investments and growth in the Caribbean tourism and hospitality industry.  "The good news is we will see a slowing of supply and supply growth has been an Achilles heel to success," said Berman.

Raymond Campbell, partner with KPMG, said "Only well-capitalized projects with unique selling points are likely to be successful."  He added that "global brands are seen as characteristic of successful hotel projects and that lenders expect a proactive focus on liquidity and capital."
As for capital influx, most of the delegates' interests were turned towards Dr. Adam Wu, Chief Operator Officer, China Business Network, and his projections of both investments and tourists from China.

"China has become the second largest economy in the World and has the highest amount of foreign reserves.  The Chinese government invested $7billion in 2009 in the Caribbean building major infrastructure projects, financing roads and ports, stadiums and conference centres.

"China is also the fastest growing outbound travel market with a 21% increase within 2010.  China has the largest population with 1.34 billion people and everything should be measured against this huge population base. 

Dr. Adam Wu, Chief Operator Officer, China Business Network
"More and more Chinese have much more disposable incomethat are enabling them to travel abroad in order to fulfill their dreams of visiting foreign countries, having exotic holidays. 

To reach the Chinese travel market, Dr. Wu suggests that hotels and destinations "conveying your message in Chinese is crucial. China has only about 10 million people capable of using English for meaningful communication representing only 0.7% of the total population yet China already has 100 million middle class families who have the means to travel overseas.

"The most cost effective way of doing so is online as the majority of Chinese travel professionals depend on the Internet for accessing most up-to-date information viathe China Wide Web for information about travelling overseas.  Total Net users in China reached 457 million by the end 2010.

"Most marketing and promotional efforts should continue targeting the corporate and incentive travel market as well as the higher end of the leisure sector especially honeymoon makers, wealth retirees as well as special groups interested in music, foreign culture, film locations and high quality or unique products."

Adam Sacks, Managing Director, Tourism Economics, told attendees that "the US and global economies are on the right track and current indicators as well as our predictive models indicate that travel is leading the recovery."  He predicted a gradual rise in business confidence which encourages companies steady investment and modest job creation.  He said that the "recovery is strong enough that fiscal crisis remains contained.  Despite headwinds of weak housing and tepid job creation, the economy is in its strongest position since 2008.Travel itself has led the recovery and prospects are good. The longer term outlook for the Caribbean is encouraging with potential in the traditional and emerging source markets."

Ancile Brewster, Inter-American Development Bank, said: "Tourism remains major economic driver/opportunity.  The dynamic international tourism market, with new consumption patterns, markets and segments, offer new development/expansion options.

A general session on "To Build or Buy, Determining the Best Investment Strategy" drew a diverse group of speakers lead by Mark Young, Managing Director, Corporate Investment Banking, FirstCaribbean International Bank.

Young said the "return of airlift and by extension arrivals are in line with employment levels and pick up in home real estate markets."  He noted the excess capacity of approximately 64% greater supply in room stock vs. current demand and estimated "2008's Occupancy and ADR levels will return in 2020."
Ron Sutherland, President of The Hemisphere Group, was one of the strongest optimists of the week as he looked into his crystal ball and projected strong growth on several fronts, especially in the mixed-use vacation ownership market with both conversions and new builds on the horizon.

The final session focused on the shared ownership industry lead by David Callaghan, Vice President, Resort Sales & Service, Interval International, who along with Richard Corso, CEO of Royal Resorts Caribbean, and Jay DiGiulio, President of Boutique Club International, represent some of the strongest brands in the timeshare, fractional, condo, private residence club and mixed-use resort products.
All of them expressed strong optimism, especially because of the resiliency of the vacation ownership market where owners return to their destination or exchange for another Caribbean destination each year because of they have already paid for the accommodations.
They also dispelled the myth that a hotel had to have hundreds of rooms to be successful as a timeshare resort and also suggested that the all-inclusive market was ripe for a greater share of the vacation ownership market.

About The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) facilitates the full potential of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving members' needs and building partnerships in a socially responsible and sustainable manner.  CHTA was founded in 1962; it is the voice of the Caribbean hospitality industry for the development of the region in the highly competitive and sophisticated environment of international tourism. Today, tourism is widely recognized as a pivotal industry in the economy of the region - and CHTA functions as the common denominator for this industry in a region of diverse nationalities, languages and styles, identifying mutual problems and marshalling the resources of the active and allied members to devise solutions. CHTA represents all facets of the hospitality industry with more than 725 member hotels and 525 allied members.



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Also See: Caribbean Hotel & Tourism (CHTA) Education Foundation Receives Largest Donation to Date, $50,000, Presented by Intervale International and Participating Caribbean Member Resorts / May 2011

Keynote Speaker and Agenda Set for the 15th Annual Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) May 10-12, 2011 in Montego Bay, Jamaica / April 2011

Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Adds Two New Conferences for 2011 with Events Scheduled in Barbados and St. Lucia for June and October / April 2011

Recap Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference: Robert Crandall, Former CEO of American Airlines, Provides Frank and Honest Assessment of the Issues Facing Caribbean Tourism; CSHAE Elects 2010-2011 Leadership / May 2010

Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Education Foundation Providing Scholarships for Students Seeking Career in Hospitality / December 2009

The Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association Names David Callaghan the Allied Member of the Year; Recognized for Ongoing Support of the Caribbean Hospitality Industry / January 2009

Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives Agree on Six Point Plan for National Associations; Susan Springer, Executive Director of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association Re-elected President / May 2008

Caribbean Hotel Association Recognizes Individuals that Raise the Bar for Caribbean Hospitality; Eustace Guishard, GM of Cap Juluca Resort in Anguilla Named “Caribbean Hotelier of the Year” / July 2005

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