Caribbean making major strides in recovery despite global challenges, says CTO
CTO Chairman Kenneth Bryan (left) and Acting CTO Secretary General Neil Walters

Caribbean making major strides in recovery despite global challenges, says CTO

BARBADOS — It looks like sunny skies ahead, says the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), despite ongoing challenges like high inflation, the war in Ukraine and an impending economic recession.

While delivering the region’s 2022 ‘Tourism Performance and Outlook Report in Bridgetown, Barbados on March 7, Neil Walters, Acting Secretary General of the CTO confirmed that the Caribbean had one of the quickest recovery rates globally last year, with 28.3 million registered tourist visits. This represents 88.6% of the visitors who arrived in 2019, which served as the baseline year for typical tourism activity before the pandemic.

Walters also reported that international travel is expected to contribute to the region’s substantial gains already registered, thanks to the robust U.S. market, which continues to drive the region’s recovery. A total of 14.6 million American tourists visited the region in 2022, 3.2 million more than the 11.4 million in 2021. 

Arrivals from the European market increased by 81% in 2022 when compared to 2021. The 5.2 million tourists from this market were almost double the 2.8 million in 2021. This represented 18.3% of all arrivals in 2022.

Meanwhile, due to travel restrictions in early 2022, the Canadian market has recovered more slowly at 60%.

The lack of available intra-regional airline has also negatively impacted regional connectivity, says the CTO.

According to Walters, nearly 90% of the region’s travel demand in 2019 has already been recovered, with destinations like Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos and the U.S. Virgin Islands already surpassing their pre-pandemic levels. 

Destinations can expect this recovery to continue into 2023, albeit at a slower rate and with uneven growth among the islands. The CTO estimates that overall arrivals to the region will increase by 10%-15% when compared to 222, with 31.2 to 32.6 million tourists visiting this year. The cruise industry is also anticipated to meet increasing demand, with 32-33 million cruise passenger visits, representing a 5%-10% increase over the pre-COVID baseline figure.

“Although we have not yet surpassed 2019’s numbers across the board in every jurisdiction, the needle is certainly moving in the right direction,” said Kenneth Bryan, Chairman of the CTO’s Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, who also serves as the Cayman Islands’ Minister of Tourism and Transport. 


Bryan added that he and his team are laser-focused on growing CTO’s members, including countries, territories and allied partners. 

“It is my intention to strengthen the relationships with other organizations, such as the United Nations World Travel Organization, the World Travel and Tourism Council, and even the Central American Tourism Promotion Agency (CATA) to foster greater collaboration,” said Bryan. 

While addressing the issue of air connectivity, which he says is largely due to the reevaluation of airline business structures and a global pilot shortage, Bryan said: “It would be illogical for me to promise a solution to this issue during my tenure as chairman. But what I can and will commit to is getting the players around the table to forensically examine what we need to do as a unified region to improve this scenario and start the ball rolling towards the solution.”

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