Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Thu February 11 2016

Report: Huge 2015 Gains in Caribbean Hotel Rates and Occupancy Will Continue

Hotel & Resort | Brian Major | February 11, 2016

Report: Huge 2015 Gains in Caribbean Hotel Rates and Occupancy Will Continue

PHOTO: More than 50 percent of Caribbean hotels reported occupancy and rate increases in 2015, according to a CHTA report. Shown here is the Hyatt Ziva/Hyatt Zilara resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Photo by Brian Major)

Tourism-reliant Caribbean destinations face an array of significant challenges to continued visitor growth in 2016, from travelers’ Zika virus-related fears to the region’s seasonal severe weather threats and recent issues related to personal safety.

Yet a series of reports from destination and government officials, travel research firms and hotel and tourism stakeholders all cautiously agree on two points: the Caribbean’s hospitality sector grew solidly in 2015 and is poised for a repeat performance this year.

The latest evidence comes courtesy of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), which this week issued its annual Industry Performance and Outlook survey. CHTA represents 32 national hotel associations and more than 600 member hotels and 300 allied members.

The CHTA survey found more than 50 percent of member hoteliers reported occupancy and average daily rate (ADR) increases in 2015. More than 92 percent reported employment rates at the same level or greater than 2014, and more than 68 percent increased their capital expenditures in 2015. Sixty-seven percent of hotels reported a net profit in 2015, while 33 percent reported a net loss.

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“The good news is that hotel occupancies and average daily rates increased in 2015 for the majority of hotels,” said Frank Comito, CTA’s CEO and director general. Overall the member hoteliers report “a positive outlook for 2016,” said Comito, with 74 percent predicting a “fair or positive” outlook for 2016 with 26 percent “responding negatively.”

Top Caribbean travel retailers confirm they are seeing higher rates and occupancy among regional properties. “I think pricing overall has been higher and yes, people are paying for it,” said Jennifer Doncsecz, president of VIP Vacations. “We have a hard time doing last-minute [reservations] because things are so booked,” she said. “We are scrambling to find space at our usual resorts we like recommending.”

While encouraged by developments throughout 2015, CHTA hoteliers cite a variety of challenges to continued growth, including “increased costs” and travelers’ array of destination options across the “globally competitive” travel industry.

READ MORE: What Do Travel Agents Look For in Caribbean Resorts?

“Hotels identified high operating and air travel costs as major growth deterrents,” Comito said. He called the challenges a “plague” on Caribbean hoteliers who struggle “to compete for markets that are unwilling to bear significant rate increases.”

CHTA’s survey follows a report from hospitality research firm STR that reported record-breaking average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPar) levels for Caribbean hotels and resorts in 2015.

The STR report predicts a mixed picture for Caribbean hoteliers’ ADR and RevPar growth in 2016. ADR will increase by 5.1 percent and RevPar by 6.5 percent in 2016, compared with increases of 4.8 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively, in 2015.

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