Caribbean registers second highest record for visitor arrivals in 2018

Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean hit a record high last year despite some destinations being severely impacted by hurricanes that swept through the region in 2017, according to figures released here yesterday by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).

“With a strong performance during the last four months of 2018, including a robust showing by countries impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, the evidence suggests that Caribbean tourism is on the upswing,” CTO acting director of Research and Information Technology, Ryan Skeete, told reporters.

Delivering the CTO’s annual Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2018 & Outlook for 2019, Skeete said the outlook for Caribbean tourism in 2019 is cautiously optimistic.

“Global demand for international travel is expected to remain strong, underpinned by healthy economic activity. Global economic growth is expected to continue, though at a slower rate, and oil prices are expected to remain similar to 2018 prices. Additionally, improved air connectivity should help to boost arrivals.

“Of course, we must recognise that there are significant headwinds to navigate. These include, but are not limited, to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the on-going trade war between the US and China and potential extreme weather events in the destinations and marketplaces.

“Consequently, we are projecting that tourist arrivals will increase by between six and seven per cent in 2019, as the damaged infrastructure in the hurricane-impacted destinations returns to capacity. Similarly, cruise arrivals should expand by a further four to five per cent,” Skeete said.

He told reporters that having registered declines during the first eight months of last year, signs of a rebound emerged in September when the region recorded a three per cent increase in visitor arrivals.