By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Feb. 11, 2014: While the Caribbean welcomed more than 25 million stay-over visitors last year, many regional destinations managed to show only a small increase overall compared to 2012.
That’s according to Caribbean Tourism Organization Chairman, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who presented the annual ‘State of the Industry Report’ Monday.
Nicholson-Doty noted that Caribbean tourist destinations showed only a 1.8 percent rise in tourist arrivals in 2013, a lot slower than the 4.9 per cent rise in 2012.
Yet, overall, stay-over arrivals increased from 24.6 million in 2012 to surpass the 25 million mark.
The CTO chair said the slow increase last year “is an indication that the momentum experienced over the previous two years has slowed, due mainly to the relatively weak economic conditions in key markets.”
Cruise arrivals also saw wild fluctuations in 2013, with Grenada recording a near 22 per cent decrease in passenger visits, while Curaçao welcomed more than 45 per cent more than it did in 2012.
Overall, however, there was a two-and-three-quarter per cent rise with nearly 22 million cruise passenger visits to the region.
STAY-OVER AND THE US MARKET
The USA is still holding steady as the Caribbean’s core market accounting for nearly half of the total traffic to the region. US arrivals increased nearly three percent in 2013 when compared to 2012, with well over 12 million Americans visiting the region during this period.
But Canadian tourist arrivals saw only a marginal 0.7 percent increase to the Caribbean last year. Canadian stay-over visitors to the region accounted for the lowest year-over-year growth in this market since 1997, the report revealed.
Tourists from the UK market saw a drop with under a million visitors coming to the Caribbean from the UK last year, down nearly one-and-a-half per cent.
CTO Chairman Nicholson-Doty blamed the fall in demand for Caribbean holidays to the Air Passenger Duty and low economic growth of under two percent last year.
THE GOOD NEWS
However, the good news is that the Caribbean has also started to benefit in a significant way from arrivals from other nations including Russia and South American nations.
Countries such as Aruba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Belize have all reported better business from the South American market.
The total number of arrivals from that market climbed from an estimated 859 thousand in 2009 to nearly one-and-a-half million last year, a 13 percent increase over 2012 and an impressive 70 percent over 2009.
“This is due to the strong economies in South America, particularly Brazil,” said Nicholson-Doty.
The big winning countries were Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname, which accounted for a 44 percent of the region’s total arrivals in 2013.
Some Caribbean states are also seeing Russian tourist arrivals in increasing numbers, especially Cuba, Dominican Republic and recently Jamaica, which actually had its first direct flight from Moscow last year by Transaero airline.
Winfield Griffith, director of Research & IT, predicts the Caribbean can expect to see a rise of between two and three percent in arrivals in 2014, riding on expected improvements in the global market place.
As CTO Chair Nicholson-Doty summed it up: “We have to fight to boost arrivals both from traditional markets and new and emerging markets. The figures suggest that South America has immense potential.”