Cruising the Caribbean continues to be in high demand, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Chairman Richard L. Sealy who spoke at the CTO’s annual conference in Curacao, Oct. 21 - 23. He said that there were an estimated 13.7 million cruise passenger visits to region in the first six months (of 2015), an overall 3 percent rise over the corresponding period last year.

“The numbers suggest that the prospects for Caribbean tourism are good,  and we remain cautiously optimistic that we will maintain the pace during the second half. Overall, the CTO’s research department projects a 5 to 6 per cent growth this year,” he said.

Overall, international tourist arrivals in the Caribbean has been strong with a 5.8 per cent increase through June, outpacing all major regions of the world, according to Sealy. For the first six months the Caribbean welcomed 14.8 million visitors, approximately 800,000 or 5.8 percent more than for the same period in 2014, and well above the 4.1 per cent recorded globally.

The Caribbean share of global arrivals stood at 2.8 per cent.

The Dutch Caribbean saw the fastest relative growth across the sub-regions in the first six months of 2015 with an 8.5 per cent increase in arrivals.

All destinations in this sub-region had considerable growth benefitting from increase demand from the U.S. and South American markets.
Of the other five sub-regions, Sealy said that only the French West Indies recorded a slight decline.

Data obtained from CTO member countries shows that the U.S. remains the main market with 7.3 million U.S. tourist visits between January and June representing a 5.3 per cent rise. The thawing of the relationship between Cuba and United States resulted in greater number of Americans transiting through other countries like the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in order to visit Cuba.

The Canadian market continues to perform well with 2.1 million visits during the period, while arrivals from Europe increased by a modest 1.1 percent, moving from 2.58 million in 2014 to 2.61 in 2015.

The intra-regional market recorded strong growth of 5.5 per cent, with some 400,000 visits.

Hotel room occupancy in the first half of the year stood at 74.6 percent, up from the 72.0 percent during the same period of 2014. Both room rates and revenue increased during the period, with room revenue collected in the sector rising 9.2 per cent. The available room stock across the region also increased by 1.5 per cent.