|Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).|
Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, recently announced that the pace of growth of Caribbean tourism outperformed every major tourism region in the world in 2015.
"Our region has set new arrival and spend records in 2015, far surpassing expectations," he said in a written release.
Caribbean tourism grew by an estimated seven percent to 28.7 million visits, much higher than the projected four to five percent, said Riley.
This performance was above the global rate of growth, which the U.N. agency, the World Tourism Organization, quotes at 4.4 percent, Riley said.
Riley said, in that period, visitors spent over a billion dollars more than they did in 2014, contributing approximately $30 billion to Caribbean economies. That’s 4.2 percent higher than the $28.8 billion spent during the previous year.
"So 2015 was the second year in a row that the region has done better than the rest of the world, and the sixth consecutive year of growth for the Caribbean," said Riley.
This solid performance by the Caribbean was based on several factors, not least of which was the sustained demand from major source markets.
The region benefitted from a rise in consumer confidence in the United States where a strong dollar encouraged outbound travel among Americans.
Other factors, said Riley, include increased air capacity and persistent marketing by many Caribbean destinations and resorts plying for business in the United States.
An analysis of data provided by Smith Travel Research, a U.S. company which tracks overall performance of the hotel sector, reveals that Caribbean hotels performed better last year than in 2014.
The number of available rooms rose by 1.6 per cent, hotel occupancy increased by one per cent, and average daily rates climbed 4.6 percent to an estimated at $229. In addition, the revenue per available room rose by six per cent to $158 and total room revenue jumped by 7.7 percent.
"Still, the Caribbean cannot be complacent," said Riley. "We must continue to grow our traditional markets, strengthen emerging ones and penetrate new sources as we target the 30 million arrivals mark we set some years ago. Our efforts to improve our product quality, enhance our marketing, grow our rate base, increase our profitability, and constantly offer excellent value for money, must continue."