Caribbean tourism predicts low performance of the region’s tourism sector

Published on : Thursday, November 9, 2017

Caribbean tourism revivalThe Caribbean tourism has predicted that the sector will grow just by one to two per cent, and is anticipating that this downswing will be continuing in 2018 as well, due to the effects of the two hurricanes that battered the region, according to Dionisio D’Aguilar, chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Several Caribbean countries, including Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands, and Anguilla, suffered the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, resulting in several deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

The hurricanes also changed the trajectory of regional tourism markets as a whole.

“We began the year growing at a healthy pace of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year,” said D’Aguilar at a news conference at the World Travel Market conference in London.

At the mid of this year, the Caribbean recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, which was 800,000 more than expected. Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3 per cent.

The European market was up 7.9 per cent, Canada by 6.4 per cent, and despite the weak pound sterling, the United Kingdom grew by 4.8 per cent, the CTO chairman said.

Growth in the cruise sector also remained upbeat and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. Cruise visitors increased 4 per cent to 15.3 million.

The most serious damage of the hurricanes was reported in Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, both Dutch and French St Martin and the US Virgin Islands.

Citing analysis by the Caribbean Development Bank on the potential economic impact, the CTO chairman noted that every one per cent reduction in tourist arrivals could cost US$137 million in lost revenue.

D’Aguilar said, “As for post-hurricane tourist arrivals, it is still too early to tell, since the October numbers are not yet in. However, with several of the key cruise destinations, including Puerto Rico, St Maarten and the US Virgin Islands recovering from the impact of the hurricanes, cruise lines made changes to their itineraries to include alternative regional ports which remained open.”


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