The Canadian market was a major contributor to the record number of visitors to the Caribbean in 2014.
A total of 26.3 million visitors, which was 1.3 million more than the amount of tourists that went to the Caribbean in 2013 – travelled to the region last year, spending a record US$29.2 billion.
Two year ago, tourists spent US$28 billion.
“This robust showing for the Caribbean was based on the fact that the traditional markets performed well,” said Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) secretary-general, Hugh Riley, in the “State of the Industry” report last week. “Canada, which was flat in 2013, rallied strongly, the United States maintained healthy growth and Europe topped five million visitors for the first time since 2008. So strong was the demand for Caribbean vacations that we outperformed the rest of the world which, according to the United Nations World Tourism organization, recorded a growth rate of 4.7 per cent.”
Riley said increased airline seat capacity, improved airport facilities and room stock, new initiatives in the marketplace and political and economic stability contributed to the region’s tourism success.
He expects the trend to continue this year.
“Increased economic activity in our region’s major source markets and the fact that several of our member countries have negotiated additional routes with the airlines to increase seat capacity during the year should lead to higher demand for Caribbean vacations,” he said. “At the same time, hotel brands are making substantial investments, bringing new rooms to the market, indicating rising confidence in the industry.”
Winfield Griffith, the CTO director of research and information technology, said the resurgence in the main market economies was the main reason for the upswing in leisure travel to the region.
“This heightened demand significantly benefitted the Caribbean and is clearly evident in the fact that visitors are coming in larger numbers such that growth rates in arrivals (stay-over and cruise) were higher than expected last year,” he said. “The growth rate of 5.3 per cent in tourist arrivals was among the best at the region and sub-region levels worldwide.”
Griffith said an increase in Canadian travel last year immensely benefitted the Caribbean.
“The Canadian market share was retained at 12.3 per cent,” he said. “The increased number of trips was a recovery from the marginal decline which was realized from the market in 2013.”
CTO chair, Richard Sealy, said he’s extremely pleased with the growth rate, particularly during the summer when the rate was almost twice that of the summer of 2013.
“All of this was achieved in a year which recorded moderate growth in the world economy,” he said. “All of this is an indication that Caribbean holidays are still in demand and that, despite the moderate growth, stability is returning to the markets and consumer confidence is growing. Continuing to grow the Caribbean’s tourism industry is vital for the creation of opportunism for the people of the region, critical to the promotion of economic development and essential if we are to realize our vision of positioning the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination.”