CTO Upbeat on Caribbean Travel, Tourism
Caribbean destinations welcomed 8.7 million international visitors during the first quarter of 2017.
“This is 150 thousand more than in the same period of 2016, a 1.8 percent increase,” said Dionisio D'Aguilar, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization at a press conference last Thursday at the Wyndham New Yorker during Caribbean Week festivities in New York.
The growth in numbers was largely fueled by a return of Canadian travelers, who showed “an uncharacteristically weak performance in 2016,” but rebounded to the tune of 4.8 more visitors this year during the first quarter. Tourism growth from Europe (2.9 percent) and the United States (1.3) percent also helped drive visitation throughout the region.
The news is not all bright. Largely fueling the growth were visits to the region categorized as “other Caribbean destinations,” including Cancun, Cozumel, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname, which saw an increase of more than 6.3 percent visitor arrivals through the end of March.
While the French Caribbean sub-region also welcomed more international visitors than last year, all other regional sub-groupings showed visitor decreases, for a combined slide of 1.3 percent.
The cruise industry also continues to surge, and cruise passenger, with nearly 10 million passengers visiting the region during the first quarter. The number reflects a 4.5 percent growth over last year.
Tourism arrivals were less favorable for the hotel industry, which saw room revenue, average daily rates and revenue per available room all decreased last year. While some of that decrease might normally be attributed to new properties opening throughout the islands, last hear the number of available rooms through the region only increased by 1.1 percent.
Still, D’Aguilar, who is also the Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Bahamasair for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, is positive about the industry’s outlook for the future.
“Yesterday, I chaired my first CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners meeting in what was truly an enriching experience. The passion for CTO and the Caribbean that was so evident at the meeting was extremely encouraging and bodes well for the organization and regional tourism.”
Thursday’s press conference was the first news conference for the newly appointed chairman.
D’Aguilar also alluded to a new five-year strategic plan for the CTO in a “process that has already begun,” he said.
Additionally, the organization is considering expanding its membership to countries “outside the traditional Caribbean region, but washed by the Caribbean Sea.”
In related news, the Caribbean Tourism Organization has also inked a deal with the Travel Foundation (TF) to help develop sustainable tourism projects through the region.
The Travel Foundation is an international UK-based charity, which is already active in a number of Caribbean projects, including the promotion of community artists and enterprise companies in Jamaica, tackling invasive Lionfish in Saint Lucia by encouraging hotels and restaurants to serve them on their menus; as well as working with various tourism entities around the islands to help to reduce greenhouse gases.
Source: Travel Pulse