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Caribbean sees rise in visitor numbers in 2011 despite troubled times

Caribbean sees rise in visitor numbers in 2011 despite troubled times

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the authority on Caribbean tourism arrival statistics and visitor spend, announced earlier 23.8 million stay over visitors came to the region in 2011.

This represents an increase of 3.3 per cent over 2010.

Cruise passenger arrivals, however, were flat, rising marginally by 0.3 per cent to 20.6 million.

“The Caribbean tourism industry is holding its own, remaining afloat and resilient amidst turbulence in the marketplace,” Sean Smith, CTO statistics specialist, announced at the regional development agency’s State of the Industry news conference at its headquarters in Barbados.

“Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean region remained buoyant in 2011, continuing the recovery process which began in 2010.”

The rise in arrivals came on the back of a strong performance during the winter months, although there was less than anticipated growth during summer.

“Tourist arrivals during the winter months (January to April) were up 4.4 per cent over the previous winter, which had grown by 3.9 per cent over 2009,” Smith added.

“The summer period ending December recorded a lower than expected increase of three per cent.”

The Canadian market performed strongly with arrivals up 6.8 per cent over 2010, but growth from the US was modest at 1.7 per cent, while Europe was flat, recording a 0.6 per cent rise.

Smith warned, however, that the Caribbean was not yet out of the woods as the data revealed uneven growth among some destinations and that revenue continued to lag.

High unemployment in the major source markets, pressure on the monetary and fiscal systems, as well as high oil prices continued to be of concern to the region, the CTO official said.

“In light of these realities, arrivals to the Caribbean are not expected to exceed a three per cent increase in 2012 and visitor expenditure is also not expected to grow meaningfully during this year,” Smith said. 

Cruise arrivals, he added, are likely to rise by two to three percent in 2012.