The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization, CTO, is projecting a 5% increase in tourist arrivals in 2015 after the region recorded its best year ever in 2014. CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley told reporters a record 26.3 million visitors came to the Caribbean last year, spending a record US$29.2 billion.
“Last year, we received more visitors than ever before – recording our fifth straight year of growth – and visitors spent more money in the Caribbean than they ever did before.
“There was strong demand throughout 2014 and I am particularly pleased with our performance during the summer period when our growth rate was almost twice that of the summer of 2013,” CTO chairman Richard Sealy told a news conference.
Sealy, who is also Barbados’ Tourism Minister, said the improved performance was achieved in a year which recorded moderate growth in the world economy, adding “all of this an indication that Caribbean holidays are still in demand, all of this a sign that, despite the moderate growth, stability is returning to the markets and consumer confidence is growing”.
“Clearly, last year, the Caribbean’s tourism industry was the strongest on record. There’s no doubt that political and economic conditions, increased airline seat capacity, improved airport facilities, increased room stock – as recognized hotel chains established themselves in our destinations – and new initiatives in the marketplace, all contributed to this success.”
Riley said another reason the CTO was being optimistic in 2015 is due to the fact that “increased economic activity in our region’s major source markets and the fact that several of our member countries have negotiated additional routes with the airlines to increase seat capacity during the year, should lead to higher demand for Caribbean vacations.
“The outlook for Caribbean tourism is positive, and we project a further four to five per cent rise in arrivals in 2015.”
Riley told reporters that last year, 1.3 million more visitors came to the Caribbean than in 2013, which itself was a record year, representing a 5.3% rise, and well above the projected two to three per cent. He said these visitors spent just over a billion dollars more than they did in 2013.
“So strong was the demand for Caribbean vacations that we outperformed the rest of the world, which, according to the UN World Tourism Organization, recorded a growth rate of 4.7%” he added.
Riley said that the robust showing for the Caribbean was based on the good performance of traditional markets. He said Canada, which was flat in 2013, rallied strongly, while the US maintained healthy growth and Europe topped five million visitors for the first time since 2008.
He said that with more Americans taking outbound trips, the US continued to be the dominant supplier of visitors to the region accounting for just under half of all tourists, while growing at 5.5 per cent.
“Although the bulk of the traffic is concentrated in four destinations, the market supplied increased numbers to half of the member countries reporting data.”
He said Canadians also took more international trips during the year to the benefit of Caribbean destinations, thereby retaining the Canadian market share at 12.3 per cent.
“The increased number of trips was a recovery from the marginal decline which was realized from the market in 2013,” he said, noting however that the popularity of Cuba and the Dominican Republic among Canadian visitors market is undeniable, and together these destinations account for 57.9 per cent of the total”.