Airlift and cruise ships help fuel Caribbean growth: Travel Weekly

How’s the Caribbean performing so far this year in terms of arrivals?

It’s a mixed bag, according to data provided to the Caribbean Tourism Organization from various member countries. Statistics always lag a month or two behind, and not all countries report to the CTO, but of the seven destinations that provided stayover arrival data for the January-May period, four reported growth, ranging from 6.3% in Anguilla to 14.3% in Dominica.

In terms of visitor numbers, the Dominican Republic, as usual, topped the charts with 2.7 million visitors, a 6.7% jump over the same period in 2016. The US market accounted for the bulk of visitors, followed by Europe and Canada.

As for cruise traffic, seven out out of nine destinations saw increases, led by 35.9% in the D.R. (584,347 passengers), followed by Barbados (up 24.5%) and Curacao (up 14%).

Summer figures haven’t been tallied, but some milestones have been reached in a couple of the islands.

Jamaica welcomed its one millionth stopover visitor on June 15, well ahead of other years. Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett took special note of the date, because it marked the earliest that the destination has ever recorded that many arrivals. An earlier projection had put the millionth visitor at the end of June.

“This is significant not only for jobs and earnings but helps to quantify the actual revenue flow in foreign exchange,” Bartlett said.

Helping fuel Jamaica’s increase are Southwest’s new flights out of Fort Lauderdale as well as more airlift from Germany this year. It’s helped Jamaica’s tourism sector earned in excess of $1.2 billion through mid-June, a 6.5% increase over the same period last year. The island’s eventual goal is to reach five million visitors in a single year, Bartlett said: Jamaica welcomed 2.18 million stayover visitors in 2016.

Although Barbados reported only January and February arrivals to the CTO, which indicated  a modest increase of 1.6% to 125,303 visitors, a later report which covered the period…

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