CTO: Caribbean Destinations Posted Record Arrivals In 2014
Caribbean destinations posted higher-than-expected visitor arrival totals in 2014, hosting 26.3 million land-based travelers in what Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) officials described Tuesday as a record year.
The 2014 arrivals figure represents a 5.3 percent increase over 2013, totaling an additional 1.3 million visitors. The figure is “well above the projected two to three percent” increase forecast last year by CTO officials said Hugh Riley, secretary general, at a press briefing in Barbados.
The Caribbean’s 2014 tourist arrivals performance also surpassed other global regions. “So strong was the demand for Caribbean vacations that we outperformed the rest of the world,” said Riley. He cited the 4.7 percent increase in global destination arrivals reported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Riley identified the Dutch Caribbean (generally the islands of Aruba, Curacao, and St. Maarten) as the CTO regions which recorded the largest visitor arrivals growth totals in 2014.
The region was followed by Cancun and Cozumel, Mexico; Cuba; the Dominican Republic; Haiti; Suriname and the U.S. territories (including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico). “All other sub-groupings recorded increases, except for the French Caribbean where the performance was flat,” said Riley.
An analysis of data from Smith Travel Research indicates Caribbean hotels earned more revenue in 2014 compared with 2013, Riley added. “Room occupancy rates improved slightly; and revenue per available room was up 5.7 percent,” he said.
Airline capacity dedicated to Caribbean destinations also grew 2014, Riley observed. “Airlines doing business in the Caribbean are adding seats to destinations to which they already fly, while some are adding new destinations,” he said.
“As a result, capacity to Latin America and the Caribbean increased six percent, according to the International Air Transport Association.”
Riley said Caribbean cruise ship arrivals rebounded in 2014 from a disappointing performance in 2013. Cruise ship arrivals totaled nearly 24 million passengers in 2014, Riley said, an eight percent increase over the 22 million guests hosted in 2013. Cruise ship arrivals grew only two percent between 2012 and 2013, Riley said.
“Increased economic activity in our region’s major source markets and the fact that several of our member countries have negotiated additional routes with the airlines to increase seat capacity should lead to higher demand for Caribbean vacations,” Riley said.
Yet while land-based tourism in the Caribbean remains solid, as several hotel brands are “making substantial investments [to] bring new rooms to the market,” Riley said the cruise sector’s outlook is somewhat less rosy.
In fact a 2015 Cruise Industry News report indicates some cruise ships will depart the region, Riley said. “We anticipate a slight decline in capacity regionally, with growth in cruise passenger arrivals remaining flat.”
Nevertheless, the Caribbean’s overall tourism business remains strong, Riley said. “The outlook for Caribbean tourism is positive and we project a further four to five percent rise in arrivals in 2015.”
PHOTO: The Dominican Republic was among the leaders in visitor arrivals in 2014. Pictured is the Club Med Punta Cana resort. (Photo by Brian Major)