COVID-19’s Devastating Impact On Caribbean Tourism Revealed

guadeloupe-caribbean
A French police officer patrols an empty Datcha beach in Gosier on the French overseas island of Guadeloupe which reported 346 new cases on Sept. 16, 2020. (Photo by CEDRICK ISHAM CALVADOS/AFP via Getty Images)
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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Sept. 17, 2020: The decimating impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Caribbean tourism was for the first time revealed in real numbers Wednesday by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, (CTO), as many nations continue to see new coronavirus cases daily.

Latest data show that for the first two months of summer 2020, there has been a 99.1 percent decline in regional tourism, with just under 42,000 international visitors travelling to the region in the past two months as some destinations remain closed to international tourists or reopened and then closed again.  

In the first six months of 2020, there was a 50 percent decline, with basically no tourist travel in the region in April and May, as borders remained closed and events cancelled.

There was also a reported 20.5 percent drop off, up to the end of the first quarter, and a 39.4 percent decline for the winter season, which includes the period up to June. Travelers from the US to the Caribbean declined by 60.1 percent up to June while European travel to the region was down by 54.8 percent.  Canadian travel to the Caribbean was even lower at 43.8 percent.

Cruise tourism over the six months was down 49 percent, with just 8.5 million cruise visitors visiting the region in the first quarter since the CDC order effectively cancelled cruises in March.

Overall, the data shows that Bermuda has seen the largest dip in stop-over tourist arrivals for the first seven months of 2020, with an 85 plus percentage drop off or just over 25,600 visitors. Last year, in the first quarter of 2019, the British territory had reported almost 25,000 stop-over visitors.

The Bahamas saw a 71 percent decline with around 374,000 visitors between Jan. – July, while Dominica saw a 69 percent drop off through August, or just 19,000 visitors.

Last year, in the first 6 months of 2019, the Bahamas had reported over a million visitors. Dominica had reported a total of 75,726 visitors in the first 10 months of 2019 which was a 52 percent increase from 2018.

OTHER COUNTRIES

St. Lucia saw an almost 68 percent decline in arrivals with just 96,615 tourists visiting the island in the past 8 months. Last year, the island hosted 423,736 stayover visitors. Stay-over arrivals for June 2019 alone had peaked at 34,040, up 9 percent from June 2018.

The Dominican Republic saw an almost 65 percent drop-off, with just over 1.6 million tourists visiting the island in the past 8 months. Last year, the island had received over 4.6 million visitors for the same period.

Puerto Rico also saw an almost 65 percent decline in tourist arrivals between Jan. – July with just over 342,000 tourists. In 2019, in a bounce back after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the island had experienced an increase of 62.3 percent in the first six months.

Jamaica reported a 62.5 percent decline or 623,260 tourists in seven months of 2020. Last year, in the same period, Jamaica reported over 1.6 million visitors.

St. Maarten saw a 62.1 percent drop in arrivals of stop over tourists, or just 76,368 visiting the island in a seven-month period this year.  Last year, in the first six months, St. Maarten hosted 171,543 land-based visitors which was a 131 percent increase over 2018.

Grenada reported an almost 62 percent drop in tourist arrivals for Jan. – July 2020 or 37,359 tourists. Last year, the destination had welcomed a total of 318,559 visitors between January and June, a 1.15 percent growth over 2018.

Curacao reported an almost 60 percent decline with just 127,284 tourists arriving there in the past 8 months compared to over 313,000 last year for the same period.

Anguilla reported a 58.4 overall drop off for Jan. – June or just 23,220 visitors. By contrast, Anguilla recorded 55,916 land-based, overnight arrivals between January and June of 2019.

Belize reported a 56.3 percent decline for Jan. – June or 124,261 visitors. Last year, the CARICOM Central American nation had welcomed 284,576 land-based overnight travelers in the year’s first six months.

Trinidad and Tobago, which remains closed, reported a 53.5 decline in the first 6 months of 2020 or 91,886 tourists. Last year, 388,576 stop-over tourists visited T&T between January and December.

The USVI reported a 41.4 percentage decline in the first half of 2020, seeing just 208,167 visitors compared to over 354,000 last year for the same period.

Tourism remains the main economic lifeblood for many of these islands, which are now looking at a serious economic fall-out and debt burden from the pandemic.

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