Caribbean tourist arrivals up for first half of 2014


American Airlines flight lands over tourists in St Maarten. (Credit: Caribbean360 / Bigstock)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday August 29, 2014, CMC – The Caribbean recorded a rise in visitor arrivals during the first half of this year, keeping pace with the world average, according to figures released by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

It said the region enjoyed a 4.3 per cent increase during the first six months of the 2014, much in line with the world average of 4.7 per cent.

CTO director of research and information technology, Winfield Griffith, speaking on the CTO’s television programme, “Destination Caribbean” aired on CARIBVISION on Thursday night, said that just under 14 million long-stay tourists visited the Caribbean between January and June, with nearly half this number ( 6.87 million) coming from the United States.

He said compared to the same period last year when 6.61 million American visitors arrived in the Caribbean, the 2014 figure represents a 3.9 per cent rise in arrivals from the US market.

“There is enough evidence to suggest that there is growing economic confidence in the region’s biggest neighbour and this is releasing much pent-up travel demand caused by a long recessionary period”. Griffith said.

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The CTO research head stated that just 21 countries in the region were able to breakdown their tourist arrivals by destination in time for the report. From the most recent figures it was clear that more Europeans and Canadians are gravitating to the region showing increases of six and 4.3 per cent respectively.

For the winter period, January to April, at least five countries reported double digit growth and the CTO said that destinations continue to power through the current summer showing signs of doing exceptionally well this year.

Griffith also announced that the cruise sector enjoyed an eight per cent increase in passenger arrivals to reach 13.1 million after the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, CTO secretary general Hugh Riley, speaking ahead of the organisation’s annual “State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) to be held in the United States Virgin Islands, said stakeholders will seek to evaluate the state of the industry during the September 17-19 event that will focus on “Positioning Caribbean tourism for major change”.

“So it really focuses very squarely on where the CTO is suggesting that Caribbean tourism should go within a specific time…and the conference is looking at how we are going to get from where we are today to where we say we want to be.

“I think participants can expect to see us take a fairly logical step by step approach to looking at all of the issues that are involved in helping or hindering that processing of realising that vision for Caribbean tourism,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“Tourism is the business of the Caribbean and when we look at statistics we realise that is the most tourism dependent region in the world…and all of us has to get engage in the business,” he sid, noting that the conference provides an opportunity for stakeholders “to talk about the issues that affect our livelihood.”