The Caribbean has launched its first joint marketing campaign for the region in “many years” in a bid to reverse a 1.2 million decline in international visitor numbers following last year’s hurricanes.

The ‘rhythm never stops’ campaign is a public-private partnership between the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, and tourist boards from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.

Phase one of the campaign is running across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, but will be rolled out across other channels and markets as it continues.

Hugh Riley, secretary general of the CTO, said: “Our countries are on the way back. They’re at different stages of recovery, but you’ll see how far we’ve gone.

“[The campaign] has already surpassed the initial targets. It’s deliberately a Caribbean campaign, it is not about any specific destination within the Caribbean.”

Dominic Fedee, CTO chairman and minister of tourism, information and broadcasting for Saint Lucia, said: “We didn’t have the fire power in marketing funds and resources to respond to the brand damage that was caused [by the hurricanes].

“One of things we saw is that even the countries that were not affected did suffer brand damage. We came together. We saw that out of crisis sometimes comes opportunity and we took the time to come up with a regional marketing campaign for the Caribbean, which we had not done in many years.”

Fedee reported a drop in stayover arrivals between January and June 2018 of 1.2 million, with a 1.2% drop from the UK, compared with a 6.7% fall from German visitors and 15.8% drop from the US. Canada saw a 4.7% rise in arrivals, while Europe overall had modest growth of 0.3%.

Abta director of destination and sustainability Nikki White said: “We’re starting to see, for summer 2019, positive signs of growth for the market into the Caribbean. Generally, we’re seeing a really strong booking period for summer ’19.

“With Brexit, we thought it would be a bit more challenging. At some point, we will see an impact, but what we think is happening is that some families want to lock down their holiday price now, so we’ve seen quite a swell of advance bookings for next year. But we’ll see what happens with [Brexit] announcements at the end of November and through the transition period.

“We’re confident people will still want to travel.”

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