Wed | Apr 1, 2020

Caribbean records growth in stopover, cruise ship arrivals

Published:Wednesday | February 26, 2020 | 1:45 PM
Acting Secretary General at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Neil Walters - Contributed photo

Janet Silvera​, Senior Gleaner Writer

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation is reporting that the region recorded growth in stopover and cruise ship arrivals in 2019, with several countries showing improvements after being impacted by hurricanes.

During a media conference on Wednesday morning at the CTO headquarters in Barbados, acting secretary general, Neil Walters, said stopover arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent to reach 31.5 million, the highest growth in the Americas.

And cruise visits saw an increase of 3.4 per cent, recording 30.2 million visitors, representing the seventh consecutive year of growth.

Walters said the improvement was driven by the robust recovery in destinations that were affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

Countries such as St Maarten, which was devastated by Irma and Maria, losing tremendous business in 2017, has rebounded to growth of 80 per cent.

“Overall, the destinations most impacted by the hurricanes in 2017 saw some of the highest rates of growth,” Walters said.

In addition to St Maarten, all the worst-affected destinations reported double-digit growth.

Anguilla was up by 74.9 per cent, the British Virgin Islands increased by 57.3 per cent, Dominica rose by 51.7 per cent, the US Virgin Islands saw a 38.1 per cent improvement and Puerto Rico increased by 31.2 per cent.

After two years of decline, the US was the best performing source market in 2019, registering an increase of 10 per cent to reach a record 15.5 million visitors.

However, Canada, from which there was sustained growth in the last three years, was sluggish in 2019 at 0.4 per cent, equivalent to 3.4 million tourist visits, Walters revealed.

He added that while arrivals from Europe were down, the intra-regional market was on the up.

“The European market dipped by 1.4 per cent from 5.9 million in 2018 to 5.8 million. The UK was down by 5.6 per cent to approximately 1.3 million visitors. On the other hand, intra-Caribbean travel increased by 7.4 per cent to reach 2.0 million, while the South American market declined by 10.4 per cent to 1.5 million,” the acting secretary general told the online audience. 

He, however, warned that while 2019 was a great year overall for Caribbean tourism, there are a few potential hurdles on the horizon including environmental, political and social uncertainties and the impact of climate change.

Concerns notwithstanding, the CTO is predicting growth of one to two per cent in 2020.

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