Caribbean Seeing Robust Growth So Far in 2019

Palm trees on Shoal Bay beach in Anguilla
Anguilla // Photo by shalamov/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Led by a 24 percent rise in arrivals from the United States, the Caribbean recorded a robust 12 percent increase in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2019, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). In an update to the media on the region's performance at a news conference this morning hosted at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel as part of Caribbean Week New York, CTO chairman Dominic Fedee revealed that between January and March this year there were 9.1 million international tourist trips to the region, up by 970,000 over the corresponding period last year.

The arrivals boom extended to the cruise sector, as well, with a record 10.7 million cruise passengers visits, an increase of 9.9 per cent or 900,000 more cruise arrivals when compared to the same period in 2018.

"Tourism is the driver of the economy in the Caribbean," Fedee said, noting how important the increase in arrivals across the board is to the region.

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The United States was the strongest performing market during the first quarter, with 4.5 million tourist visits, while Canada's 1.5 million tourist visits to the Caribbean represented a 4 percent rise. On the other hand, performance from European source markets were less encouraging, with arrivals up marginally by 0.6 percent. Of the 1.6 million tourist arrivals from Europe during the first quarter, 300,000 came from the United Kingdom (up 0.1 percent), while arrivals from Germany fell by 8.1 percent to 200,000 tourist visits. The Caribbean (up 1.8 percent) and Latin American (up 1.6 percent) markets also recorded growth, although at a much slower pace that the major markets.

Of the Caribbean destinations that have seen the most growth were Anguilla, which has its best winter in 27 years, and Puerto Rico, which also reported that occupancy spending hit an eight-year high.

The overall healthy growth in both stayover and cruise visits, coupled with a 1.4 percent rise in available airline seats during first quarter of 2019, resulting in 12.4 million international seats attracted to the region during the period, the CTO is bullish in its forecast for the year, predicting an 8 to 9 per cent increase in tourist arrivals, along with 5.5 to 6.5 percent growth in cruise arrivals. Fedee says the CTO projects these air arrival numbers to represent a 7.28 percent increase over 2018.

"Overall, a statistical analysis of the first quarter gives us much to celebrate as substantial numbers indicate healthy economic conditions in key source markets and a strong resurgence of tourism in destinations impacted by the 2017 hurricanes," Fedee says.

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