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.
Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Richard Sealy says the industry got off to a fast start in 2016, registering a 7.3 per cent 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 US dollar, which increased the appeal of the region to potential visitors. The many air service agreements ensured that the region had adequate seats to facilitate the flow of travellers to and within the region,” the CTO chairman explained.
Nineteen destinations showed improvements upon their 2015 performance, with eight registering double digit growth of between 10.5 per cent and 26.8 per cent.
The growth was led by intra-regional trips which rose by 12-9 per cent, followed by the European market which registered growth of 11 per cent.
Sealy told media at a news conference at Caribbean Week New York that regional tourism officials have recognized that more needed 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 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2016.