NEW YORK — Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean are expected to surpass the 30 million mark for the first time ever this year, following a record 28.7 million arrivals in 2015.
CTO Chairman Richard Sealy said the industry got off to a “fast start” in 2016, registering a 7.3% rise in the first quarter over the corresponding period last year. During this period the Caribbean region welcomed approximately 8.5 million international visitors, 580,000 higher than the first quarter of 2015.
“This performance was buttressed by lower oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar, which increased the appeal of the region to potential visitors,” said Sealy. “The many air service agreements ensured that the region had adequate seats to facilitate the flow of travellers to and within the region.” Sealy was in New York City this week for the annual Caribbean Week New York event.
Some 19 destinations showed improvements on their 2015 performance, with eight registering double-digit growth of between 10.5% and 26.8%.
The growth was led by intra-regional trips which rose by 12.9%, followed by the European market which registered growth of 11%.
Sealy said regional tourism officials have recognized that more needs to be done to keep visitors occupied while in the Caribbean. “The CTO continues to work feverishly with our members to see how they can improve their product offering and diversify their markets,” he said.
The CTO has projected growth of between 4.5 – 5.5% in 2016.