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Posted: Monday 20 May, 2024 at 7:07 PM

Resurgence in tourist arrivals signals Caribbean's rebound

By: Jermine Abel in Jamaica,

    MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- THE Caribbean region has shown a remarkable resurgence in tourist arrivals throughout 2023 and the first two quarters of this year, marking a significant recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which arrivals were severely diminished.


    At the opening of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Authority (CHTA) Travel MarkepPlace, President Nicola Madden-Greig announced a three percent growth for the entire region, with hotel occupancy rates also on the rise across the board.


    The United States, Canada, and the Caribbean region  stand out as the leading markets for tourist arrivals, bolstered by increased airlifts to the area.


    “CHTA represents 33 Caribbean destinations, and we have been looking at tourism from the point of view as its contribution to GDP. As you can see from 2019, based on the global index, for the Caribbean, our GDP contribution was 13.7%, and that's projected to go as far as 14.2% in 2032,” Madden-Greig stated.


    The tourism sector remains pivotal to the region's economy, with territories, including St. Kitts and Nevis, exhibiting a high economic dependency on tourist arrivals.


    “In terms of jobs, the Caribbean's dependency for jobs in tourism is 15.6% in 2019 of total jobs, and it's projected to go up to 17.7% by 2032. In 2023, we were at 15.2%. So that means we employ … a lot of people.” the president confirmed.


    Examining the data further, Madden-Greig highlighted that while the first two quarters of the previous year showed modest growth, the latter half witnessed a notable acceleration in tourism arrivals, surpassing the 2019 levels.


    “We weren't quite back to the level we needed to be. But when you see Q3 and Q4, tourism arrivals increased more rapidly, and that was really good in terms of our overall growth.


    “And we moved ahead in terms of what we were performing in 2019. And this is for the destinations that report through CTO. If you look at the breakdown, the destinations that were really commanding market share is Dominican Republic at 25%, as well as Puerto Rico at 12%, and Cuba at 8%,” the president explained.


    The surge in visitor arrivals in larger territories was attributed to the available room stock, enabling them to accommodate a considerable portion of the region's tourism traffic.


    Across the Dutch Caribbean, French Caribbean, U.S. territories, and OECS countries, double-digit growth was reported, with slight declines observed in the French Caribbean and single-digit growth in the U.S. territorie, Madden-Greig elaborated.


    Despite a slight decrease in arrivals from Germany, the Caribbean experienced a substantial increase in tourist arrivals from Canada, underscoring robust overall numbers for the region.


    As of 2024, the Caribbean tourism sector is poised for further growth and recovery.


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