For a majority of Canadians, the Caribbean is still king. Canadian tour operators confirm the region is hopping with an increased number of bookings compared with previous years. And according to Statistics Canada, two Caribbean locations, Barbados and Jamaica, make the list of the top 12 most popular destinations in the world for Canadians in 2004.ÊYet with the number of advance reservations already secured, Canadians interested in Caribbean holidays this winter will have to act quickly.“Not all Canadians are aware of how popular the Caribbean has become with Europeans,” says Hugh Riley, Director of Marketing for the Americas, for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
“Not only do European travellers book longer vacations than we do - usually two to three weeks at a time - they also book them earlier. This means there are less spaces available for Canadians who typically make their reservations at the last minute.”
Martha Chapman, manager, corporate communications for Signature Vacations agrees.Ê “We’re delighted to report strong sales, especially advance sales, to virtually all of our destinations. We’ve been trying to get the message out that early booking is recommended more than ever before due to strong demands and long stays booked by Europeans, and obviously it’s working,” Chapman says.
As the travel industry continues to recover post 9-11, many Caribbean destinations are seeing double-digit increases in advance reservations from travelers across the globe. For example, compared with advance bookings during the same period in 2003, Aruba has increases of 13%, 29% and 48% for October, November and December 2004, respectively.Ê Additionally, Aruba’s advance peak season bookings for 2005 are up nearly 150% over statistics from the previous year.Ê
St. Lucia is another country experiencing the advance-booking phenomenon. Tour operator statistics show that nearly 30,000 more rooms have already been booked through the end of this year than were booked throughout the same period in 2003.ÊAnd surveys of tour operators throughout the region are in agreement: travelers are quickly snapping up trips to the Caribbean.
The best way to ensure that a Caribbean vacation goes from dream to reality: plan ahead and book in advance.
Hugh Riley explains, “Not only will a deposit secure your space, but with many tour operators, you may enjoy significant discounts for booking early.”