The Caribbean tourism industry for the first time in history outpaced the growth of the rest of the world. This was reveal in the tourism growth data for 2015 at the State of the Tourism Industry Report held today at the CTO headquarters in Barbados.
St. Lucia saw a significant 5.2% growth in winter tourist arrivals while experiencing a weak 0.2% growth in summer arrivals. The growth in arrivals pushed total stopovers for St. Lucia to 344,908 visitors for 2015, an increase of 2.0% over the previous year.
The most significant growths were seen in Cuba and Haiti; the former experiencing a whopping 17.4% increase while the latter saw a healthy 10.9% increase in arrivals.
Figures to note are:
- The 7% increase in international trips to the Caribbean (28.7 million arrivals) in 2015 is supported by sustained economic recovery in our main markets, a strong US dollar and a collapse in oil prices.
- There were over 14.3 million U.S. visits to the region, 6.3% more than the previous year. Notably, the American market accounts for approximately 50% of total arrivals. The majority of Americans to the region visited the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas.
- Arrivals from the European market were estimated at 5.2 million, breaching the 5 million mark for the first time since 2008. This represented growth of 4.2%. The top performers were Turks & Caicos Islands (34.7%), Cuba (23.1%) and Montserrat (12.1%).
Lower oil prices, a strong US dollar, improved economic growth in our major source markets and extra airline seat capacity to the region are all expected to positively impact tourism performance in the Caribbean, while uncertainty about the impact of the mosquito-borne disease Zika persists, the implications of the economic slowdown of China, the world’s largest economy, and the continuation of recessions in Brazil and Venezuela will temper our optimism.
Consequently, we predict that stay-over arrivals to the Caribbean will increase between 4.5 and 5.5%, while cruise arrivals will increase between 1 and 2%.