Bumper tourists arrivals from the United States was a key driver for the 12 per cent growth Caribbean tourism recorded for the first quarter of this year.
Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Dominic Fedee gave the update recently as part of Caribbean Week New York 2019 at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel.
He said according to data compiled by the CTO, the region welcomed 9.1 million tourists between January and March this year, an increase of 970,000 over the corresponding period last year.
The arrivals boom was extended to the cruise sector, with a record 10.7 million cruise passenger visits to the region. This represented an increase of 9.9 per cent or 900,000 more cruise arrivals when compared to the same period in 2018.
Due to its bullish economy, high consumer confidence and the strength of the US dollar against global currencies, 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 strong four per cent rise.
On the other hand, the performance of the European market was less encouraging, with arrivals up marginally by only 0.6 per cent.
Of the 1.6 million tourist arrivals from Europe during the first quarter, 300,000 came from the United Kingdom (up 0.1 per cent), while arrivals from Germany fell by 8.1 per cent to 200,000 visitors.
Visitors from the Caribbean were up 1.8 per cent and Latin American up 1.6 per cent.
The overall healthy growth in both stayover and cruise visits, coupled with a 1.4 per cent rise in available airline seats during the first quarter of 2019, brought to 12.4 million, the number of international seats attracted to the region during the period.
As a result, the CTO is optimistic in its forecast for the year, predicting an eight to nine per cent increase in tourist arrivals, along with 5.5 to 6.5 per cent growth in cruise arrivals.
“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 told the news conference.