The success of Caribbean tourism

By | Category: Travel destinations
beach at Playa Juanillo

Playa Juanillo in the Dominican Republic – one of the most popular destinations for Brits in the Caribbean

Last week, the tourism promotion body for Caribbean nations – the Caribbean Tourism Organization – said that 29.3 million visitors had come to the area an increase of 4.2% on the year before. This is a higher figure than the average increase worldwide last year meaning that the Caribbean had managed to take advantage of the problems of other destination or had been more successful in its marketing to us holidaymakers.

Nonetheless there was some disappointment in the voices of the presenters at the press conference because they had hoped to top 30 million visitors for the first time. Partially this was due to a busier than ever hurricane season and the weakness of the Canadian dollar both of which they think deterred some people from travelling there.

The United States sent the largest number of visitors to the Caribbean as you might expect given the proximity. The CTO estimates that there were 14.6 million American stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 per cent on 2015.But it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 per cent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 per cent).

Canadian visitor numbers were down and cruise arrivals grew at a slower pace of 1.3% to approximately 26.3 million.  That figure reveals just how vital the cruise lines are to the Caribbean and more than one speaker pointed out that a future aim must be to get those cruise passengers to spend more of their money ashore rather than spending on the ships.

The hotel sector couldn’t match the figures of the preceding year and partially this might be due to the fact that there are 41,000 accommodation types that are available on Airbnb meaning people might not be using hotels as much as they once did.

For 2017, the CTO predicts increases of 2.5 and 3.5 per cent in long-stay arrivals and increases of between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals. It makes no estimate of how many people might opt for Airbnb over hotel or resort accommodation.

For us on this side of the Atlantic and with a currency that buys 20% less than it did a year ago, Airbnb provides a cheaper alternative to hotels. We can still have our Caribbean cake and eat it too!

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