By Frank Martin
TTC Service.-Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean will increase by between 6 and 7 percent in 2019 a forecast of the CTO that will only be possible to reach if the region continues its restoration steps after the bitter 2017 with its destructive hurricanes.
Experts add that the islands will have to overcome the downward trend of 2018 when
the Caribbean saw a 2.3 percent decline in arrivals
“We are projecting that tourist arrivals will increase by between 6 and 7 percent in 2019, as the damaged infrastructure in the hurricane-impacted destinations returns to capacity. Similarly, cruise arrivals should expand by a further 4 percent to 5 percent,” Ryan Skeete, CTO’s acting director of research, said at the Caribbean Tourism Performance Review news conference in early February.
Skeete added in an interview in Cayman Islands that With a strong performance during the last four months of 2018, including a robust showing by countries impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, “the evidence suggests that Caribbean tourism is on the upswing.”
According to CTO the Cayman Islands was one of the highest performing destinations in the region last year.
Guyana, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis saw higher percentage increases in air arrivals than the Cayman Islands’ 10.7 percent.
But Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten and the U.S. Virgin Islands among the hurricane-impacted islands saw a significant decline in arrivals.
Because of those falls in tourist arrivals CTO was cautiously optimistic about its projections but warned of “significant headwinds,” including the outcome of the Brexit negotiations in the U.K.
Also the ongoing trade war between the United States and China and potential extreme weather events in the destinations and marketplaces.
Real statistics indicate that there were 29.9 million tourist visits to the Caribbean in 2018, a decline on 2017, but still the second best year on record for the region.
Cruise visits to Caribbean destinations at the end of 2018 increased by an estimated 6.7 percent over 2017. This meant that the region received an estimated 28.9 million cruise visitors, some 1.8 million more than the 27.1 million in 2017.
The CTO’s annual Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2018 & Outlook for 2019 is optimistic.
According to the report global demand for international travel is expected to remain strong and oil prices are expected to remain similar to 2018 prices.