The year is winding down, but the high season for the tourism sector is in full swing. Earlier today, News Five caught up with Nicole Solano, C.E.O. in the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, and we asked for an update on the tourism figures for 2022. As we all know, travel restrictions were lifted earlier this year and there has been a rebound of the industry. And the good news, according to C.E.O. Solano, is that the industry is no longer in recovery, and so far, tourism arrivals are at eighty-five percent of the 2019 figures.

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism[/b

"We are very excited to report that we have in 2022 approximately eighty-five percent recovery versus 2019 so far. We expect that 2023 will be an even better year. We see travel returning and we see the rebound. So for us, we are no longer necessarily in that tourism recovery mode; we feel like we are at the point where we have rebounded. But we have to look at where we are going now in the next five to ten-year period. How are we going to elevate tourism? How are we going to look at what it is that's needed so that we can take our service to the next level because our tourism service, the hospitality is really why people come - they want service excellence? So how can we prepare our tourism service providers to take the level to the next."

Tourism Sector Rebounding, But Needs Human Resources

[b]During COVID, a number of hotels shuttered and with the virtual collapse of the industry, thousands of persons lost their jobs, while others survived, but on reduced staff. C.E.O. Nicole Solano says that while some properties have returned, the employees have not and so there is a demand for human resources.

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism

"We have seen the return of the majority of the tourism hotel, the hotel plant as well as tour operators, tour guides, everybody has come back. Our biggest challenge right now would be employees within the tourism industry. A lot of them have moved to work in different sectors because when tourism was shut down for COVID, thy had to obviously find work so what we are doing right now is to make sure that we can attract more and more employees within the tourism industry and train. So training is on the top of the priority list to make sure that we can have enough human resources and a big human resources pool from which our operators and hotels can pick from."

Channel 5