President of Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, Todd Foss said the group is projecting 40 to 50 percent occupancy rate for the upcoming high tourist season.
"The Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association are hopeful that Christmas time we can reach occupancy levels of between 60 and 80 percent, but we feel that many of those bookings will be made not too far in advance.”
Foss said hotel occupancy has naturally been down this year, given the Covid-19 pandemic and closure of borders.
But now that borders have reopened and the spread of Covid-19 is being arrested, he said the big resorts have expressed satisfaction with a 65 to 75 percent occupancy during the peak season.
"If we could average about 60 percent from January to April I think people would be happy with that. That’s the expectation for this season after what we’ve been through.”
In a Caribbean hotel market report in July, BCQS International outlined its projections for the rebound of the hospitality industry in the coming peak season for the TCI and wider Caribbean.
BCQS International was established in 1969 to provide real estate professional services to clients in the Caribbean. The company is now one of the most experienced, independent Property and Development companies throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
Recounting the record year that 2019 was for the Caribbean hotel sector, BCQS said this record year was no more prevalent than in the TCI.
"Displaying double digit growth across both hotel revenue per available room (RevPAR) and hotel revenues, the TCI further demonstrates itself as a maturing market and truly a premium holiday destination within the Caribbean region.”
The current challenges relating to the Covid-19 pandemic will however, at least in the short term, have an impact on this market which is currently difficult to quantify, the company noted.
It stated that with the arrival of 2020, a notable downturn in global hotel performance was already being seen.
According to STR data, throughout January and February, the Caribbean region was already outputting year on year declines in both occupancy and average daily rate (ADR) performance of about minus five percent and minus one point five percent, respectively.
This decline, BCQS said, was not a result of Covid-19, but more a loss in momentum when compared to 2019’s impressive performance at the beginning of the year.
However, by the end of March 2020, a quarter on quarter review revealed that the Caribbean had experienced a -20.6 percent in hotel occupancy, minus three percent in ADR and -23 percent in RevPAR.
From these final weeks of March through to the second week of April, Caribbean occupancy rates plummeted and were unable to even reach double digit figures.
By the second week of April, the region collectively achieved an occupancy rate of only seven percent, during which time its RevPAR also declined by a staggering 95 percent year on year.
Pointing to the most recent statistics published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (2019), BCQS noted that 13.9 percent of the Caribbean’s GDP was attributed to travel and tourism.
However, this contribution to GDP significantly varies on a territory by territory basis, reaching upward of 90 percent in some islands.
Many islands including Cayman, Trinidad, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands have a far more diverse economy, each with strong alternative industries such as manufacturing, financial or professional services and mining capabilities to name a few.
However, the TCI does not possess such a varied economy and consequently remains one of the most travel and tourism dependent locations for GDP contribution, not only within the Caribbean, but globally.
However, BCQS is hopeful that a consistent rebound of increased visitation will be seen in November and December, which is largely influenced by peak holiday periods.
"Consequently, and subject to no second wave of Covid-19, we foresee hotels targeting the greater demand during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to capitalize on the much-needed lucrative business as we close out 2020
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.