Caribbean visitor spending climbs in 2013

Caribbean visitor spending climbs in 2013

The Caribbean recorded a rise in visitor expenditure in 2013 when compared to 2012, with the spending rate outpacing that of visitor arrivals for the first time in three years, according to figures from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

The authority on Caribbean tourism arrival statistics and visitor spend announced visitors to the Caribbean spent an estimated US$28.1 billion in 2013, up 2.3 per cent over 2012. 

This was fuelled by the accommodation sector which recorded a 7.5 per cent rise in room revenues, the CTO chairman and commissioner of tourism for the USVI, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, revealed.

Quoting figures from Smith Travel Research, an American company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry, Nicholson-Doty observed that the three main indicators for the accommodation sector – room rates, revenue per available room and occupancy – all showed positive signs of growth in 2013.

“There wasn’t a single month during 2013 that any of these indicators fell below 2012 levels,” said the Caribbean Tourism Organisation chairman at a news conference here to deliver the 2013 State of the Industry Report. 

In addition to increased expenditure, Nicholson-Doty pointed to dramatic rises in visitor arrivals from South America and travel within the region as evidence that the Caribbean’s tourism industry is showing signs of progress.

“We see this progress in the record number of overall arrivals in 2013.

“This progress is manifested in the rapid rise in the number of visitors from South America who are coming to the Caribbean in record numbers,” she added.

“You can tell there’s progress when a record number of Caribbean residents travelled within the region for touristic purposes, despite transportation challenges.”

An estimated 1.5 million tourists from South America visited the Caribbean last year, up 13 per cent over 2012 and 70 per cent higher than the 859 thousand who visited in 2009.

Meanwhile, travel among Caribbean destinations grew by 2.1 per cent in 2013, with estimated 1.6 million Caribbean people travelling for touristic purposes.

However, the CTO chairman warned that these positive signs were tempered by a slowdown in the overall growth rate - a 1.8 per cent rise in arrivals.

That was a lot slower than the 4.9 per cent rise in 2012.

Still the Caribbean welcomed over 25 million stayover visitors last year, up from 24.6 million in 2012.