The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) says the region recorded a 12 per cent increase in tourist arrivals during the first quarter of this year, spurred by a 24 per cent increase in arrivals from the United States.
In updating the media on the region’s performance at a news conference here early Thursday, CTO chairman Dominic Fedee revealed that between January and March this year there were 9.1 million international tourist trips to the region, up by 970,000 over the corresponding period last year.
He said the boom in arrivals also extended to the cruise sector, with a record 10.7 million cruise passengers visits, an increase of 9.9 per cent or 900,000 more cruise arrivals when compared to the same period in 2018.
According to Fedee, due to its bullish economy, high consumer confidence and the strength of the US dollar against global currencies, the United States was the strongest performing market during the first quarter, with 4.5 million tourist visits; while Canada’s 1.5 million tourist visits to the Caribbean represented a strong four per cent rise.
However, the performance of the European market was less encouraging, with arrivals up marginally by 0.6 per cent.
Of the 1.6 million tourist arrivals from Europe during the first quarter, 300,000 came from the United Kingdom, while arrivals from Germany fell by 8.1 per cent.
The Caribbean and Latin American markets also recorded growth, although at a much slower pace than the major markets.
The overall healthy growth in both stay over and cruise visits, coupled with a 1.4 per cent rise in available airline seats during first quarter of 2019, brings to 12.4 million the number of international seats attracted to the region during the period. The CTO is bullish in its forecast for the year, predicting an eight per cent to nine per cent increase in tourist arrivals, along with 5.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent growth in cruise arrivals.
“Overall, a statistical analysis of the first quarter gives us much to celebrate as substantial numbers indicate healthy economic conditions in key source markets and a strong resurgence of tourism in destinations impacted by the 2017 hurricanes,” Fedee told the news conference.