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JHTA says local staycations up 22-27 per cent as demand grows amid COVID-19

With more people opting to take vacations locally due to global travel restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus disease, statistics have shown an increase of up to 27 per cent in local staycations since the pandemic when compared with the prior period.

President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Clifton Reader speaking to the Jamaica Observer last Thursday said that based on an occupancy survey done over the last three months, the data reflected that approximately 37 per cent of stays were due to local businesses, which prior to the pandemic accounted for some 10-15 per cent of bookings.

“Most of the stays are family vacations and these tend to be very expensive, hence the lowering of rates [which averaged between 20-50 per cent] and other incentives given by the hotel industry and villas and other partners has helped as people find that this is a great opportunity for them to discover more about their country,” he told the Sunday Finance.

According to recently released statistics from hotel room offer platform (HOO), global staycation figures since the pandemic also trended upwards by some 18 per cent on average when compared to that of the previous year.

“The figures show that currently, an average of 76 per cent of all bookings are for domestic holidays, with just 24 per cent of bookings being made for holidays abroad. This is an 18 per cent swing when compared to the same point last year when just 58 per cent of bookings were for domestic holidays,” the report stated. It further said that countries such as Singapore made some of the biggest swings in the staycation market, with domestic stays increasing to as much as 83 per cent when compared to the 42 per cent in the prior year. Other countries such as New Zealand and the Netherlands also saw significant upticks in domestic holidays.

In the local market Reader said that the rise in these figures stemmed from a pent up demand for entertainment and excursion activities which has led more families and couples to utilise the service as they seek to alleviate tensions arising from COVID fatigue and being homesick. The imposition of international travel bans in several countries have also restricted movement and holiday trips which have led more people to vacation locally. Reader, however, noted that a new survey, which was currently underway, will provide updated figures and provide a more current representation of what the figures are now looking like into the new year.

He said that while local stays have not significantly impacted revenues or profits for a lot of resorts which made the bulk of their earnings from tourist travels – it definitely helped with business continuity which has helped many to keep their doors open and provide employment, even at minimal levels.

“If resorts can get enough business to contribute to fixed costs, it’s better to stay open because if they are closed and still have utility bills, especially at the larger hotels which still carries a certain amount of cost, it makes no sense,” he added.

Reader, in anticipating a more positive return for tourism during the latter part of this year and following the inoculation of populations in more countries globally, said that he was optimistic that staycations would also become a feature of hotel business for the future as there were no plans to abort the service on the full resumption of the sector.

“I hope that people will continue with local vacations and I hope hoteliers will be able to offer Jamaican rates so that they can be able to stay with most of the properties,” he said.