BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — Pent-up demand is “roaring back” much earlier and at a much quicker pace than originally forecasted, says the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
With the 2021 summer season underway, the organization is encouraged by data from its member countries. Although at first glance, a 60% decline in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year may not seem encouraging, the CTO says a closer examination would suggest that the region is beginning to reverse the slide that began in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic.
The Caribbean is seeing a decrease in the levels of decline that has been recorded for the past 15 months. The first quarter of 2020 was the last period of regular levels of travel, when 7.3 million international overnight tourists visited the region.
In January and February 2021, arrivals to the region declined by just over 71% when compared to the same two months last year. However, the 16.5% drop in March 2021 compared to March 2020 is an indication that declining numbers of tourist arrivals are finally improving.
The data collected from 12 destinations reporting tourist arrivals for April 2021 shows that each destination registered growth, when compared to April 2020 when tourism activity was curtailed globally. Similarly, tourist arrivals bounced back in the destinations reporting data for May. The CTO notes, however, that the number of stayover visitors is still below the corresponding levels in 2019.
Additionally, recent statements from key airline partners have buoyed optimism for the region. Both the CEO of British Airways, Sean Doyle, and the VP of sales for the Caribbean at American Airlines, Christine Valls, spoke of high levels of interest in travel to the region.
The Caribbean is being serviced from Canada this summer, with Air Canada already offering select flights out of Toronto and Montreal, with more coming next month. Sunwing is also scheduled to launch its initial lineup of sun flights to Cancun, Punta Cana, Varadero and Montego Bay within the month. Transat, meanwhile, which will be resuming operations on July 30, will fly to nearly 50 destinations, including in the Caribbean, this winter.