Speaking to agents, tourist boards and senior staff at Caribtours’ annual gala dinner recently, I was delighted to hear such positive feedback about a key destination for the UK trade.

While nobody was pretending that trading conditions remained anything but challenging, there was a genuine sense of optimism about the Caribbean that was backed by the comments of the operator’s managing director, Paul Cleary.

In this week’s Caribbean-themed edition of Travel Weekly, we speak to our sponsor British Airways and hear from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

Both report an upturn in trade to the region, and BA is putting its money where its mouth is by increasing services to many islands.

Elsewhere, we’ve spoken to agents and operators for their feedback and selling tips, and you’ll also find a bumper section of features covering Antigua, twin-centres and Nevis.

But, as is so often the case, the positive news is underpinned by challenges. This week, Travel Weekly executive editor Ian Taylor spent three days in China with Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent International Airlines Group, as the carrier launched its Heathrow-Chengdu service.

And Walsh was unequivocal in his assessment of the barriers facing his own and other airlines.

Consumer confidence may be returning, but carriers and the trade continue to face headwinds due to capacity constraints, airport charges and inequitable tax structures.

The Caribbean may be looking up, but with a little help it could really fly.