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Wednesday,  April 17, 2024 5:41 PM 

Caribbean tourism grew nearly 15% in int’l arrivals in 2023: CTO

  • Buzz
  •   03-18-2024  6:41 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Caribbean tourism grew nearly 15% in int’l arrivals in 2023: CTO
Grand Anse Beach, Grenada. (Unsplash/Hugh Whyte)
Pax Global Media

Caribbean tourism grew in 2023 with an estimated 14.3 per cent increase in international stay-over arrivals to the region, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) reports.

Delivering the “Caribbean Tourism Performance Review 2023” in Bridgetown, Barbados on March 15, Dona Regis-Prosper, secretary-general of the CTO, shared that last year’s growth was in line with CTO’s forecast for the year.

She attributed the outcome to sustained demand for outbound travel from the United States – the Caribbean’s main source market.

Enhanced tourism infrastructure, successful marketing, and augmented airlift capacity between the region and its source markets (although unevenly distributed among the destinations) also helped.

The recovery of global tourism has been resilient, despite variability in the regional performances, according to Regis-Prosper, with the Caribbean surpassing pre-pandemic arrivals by 0.8 per cent, outperforming most of the main global regions in terms of recovery.

“Based on preliminary data provided so far by the destinations in the Caribbean, tourist visits were approximately 32.2 million – about four million more than in 2022,” stated Regis-Prosper, who noted that the data showed that each month’s arrivals exceeded those of 2022 thus establishing a continuous growth trend over the past 33 months as tourism steadily rebounded toward pre-pandemic levels.

Eleven destinations – Anguilla, Aruba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Turks & Caicos Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands – performed better than in 2019.

The majority of those recovered greater than 50 per cent of their 2019 arrivals. In addition, multiple destinations registered new record levels for tourist arrivals in a single year.

U.S & Canada markets

For the Caribbean, only the U.S. market has fully recovered, while the recovery rates of arrivals from Europe and Canada reached 88.2 per cent and 88.1 per cent, respectively.

An estimated 16.3 million stay-over arrivals to the region came from the United States, representing an annual growth rate of 12.7 per cent.

The performance here established a new record level of arrivals from this market and surpassed the pre-pandemic arrivals by 4.2 per cent.

The performance of the Canadian market resulted in an estimated three million Canadian tourist visits by the end of the year, an increase of 46.1 per cent compared to 2022. Increased air service from major Canadian cities to Caribbean destinations played a pivotal role in driving up visitor numbers.

Hotel performance

The Caribbean hotel sector experienced a turnaround in 2023, including a surge in the establishment of new hotels and resorts.

According to STR, throughout the Caribbean, average room occupancy grew to 65.6 per cent in 2023 from 61 per cent in 2022.

The average daily rate (ADR) experienced a considerable increase of 11.8 per cent with the region’s ADR reaching US$329.37 while the revenue per available room (RevPAR) jumped 20.2 per cent to US$215.97.

Cruise tourism performance

Preliminary data for 2023 showed that Caribbean destinations received an estimated 31.1 million cruise visits, reflecting an increase of 11.3 million visits or 56.8 per cent compared to 2019.

This level established a new record for the regional cruise sector, surpassing the previous record of 2019 by 2.4 per cent.

Pent-up demand and the resumption of operations drove strong bookings for Caribbean cruises, along with improvements in cruise infrastructure such as larger ships, enhanced facilities, itineraries, and shore excursions.

Projections indicate that the cruise sector will continue its upward track, with an estimated 34.2 million to 35.8 million cruise visits expected in the Caribbean in 2024.

This anticipated expansion falls within the range of 10 per cent and 15 per cent.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Kenneth Bryan, who also serves as the Cayman Islands’ Minister of Tourism and Ports, noted the remarkable resilience of the tourism industry and its ongoing recovery and growth in 2023.

However, he emphasized that the industry and the region will continue to face challenges, including the high cost of travel, ongoing conflicts, heightened geopolitical tensions, and their anticipated impacts, in 2024.

“Caribbean destinations remain adaptable and responsive, and the region is still highly desired by travellers for its safety and diversity of tourism products,” stated Chairman Bryan, adding that the region will also be positively impacted by key developments in 2024, including increased air capacity throughout the year, which will facilitate greater access between the destinations and some of their legacy and emerging markets.

He also pointed to “intensive strategic marketing initiatives” that are being executed to attract visitors to the region to enjoy its culture and heritage, including its carnivals and festivals.

He noted that the CTO is pleased that the ICC (International Cricket Council) Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 is being hosted in several destinations bringing not only teams but also their loyal followers to the region and further raising awareness and promoting the diverse offerings of Caribbean destinations to global audiences.

“Hence, the Caribbean’s prospects appear highly promising, with more regional destinations poised to either match or surpass the arrival figures recorded in 2019. Anticipated growth is forecast to range between five per cent and 10 per cent, potentially welcoming between 33.8 million and 35.4 million stay-over tourists,” he said.

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