Caribbean Tourism Organization Reports Record High in Arrivals for 2016

Ryan Skeete, the CTO’s acting director of research (left), and Hugh Riley, secretary general of the CTO, at Thursday's news conference  

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is reporting that Caribbean tourism broke new ground in 2016, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever.

Regarding the outlook for 2017, the CTO predicts increases of 2.5 and 3.5 percent in long-stay arrivals and increases of between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent in cruise passenger arrivals.

“Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 percent in 2016, better than the 3.9 percent overall internationally,” said High Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), as part of Thursday's "Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016."

Visitor expenditure also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 percent to reach $35.5 billion, according to the report.

The United States remained the Caribbean’s primary market with an estimated 14.6 million stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 percent on 2015.

However, it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main source markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 percent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 percent).

Intra-Caribbean travel also so performed well, recording a 3.6 percent increase – the second straight year of growth – despite costly and fragmented air service.

Canada, normally a robust market for the Caribbean, recorded a decrease for the first time since 1994, and only the second contraction since 1982. The 3.3 million arrivals from that market represented a 3.4 percent drop when compared to 2015.

The South American market also contracted by 10.6 percent, mainly due to political instability in two of the main sources.

The CTO secretary general also revealed that cruise arrivals grew at a slower pace of 1.3 percent to roughly 26.3 million, while the hotel sector recorded negative growth, with all hotel indicators contracting, with the exception of the number of available rooms, which grew by just over one percent, according to Smith Travel Research.