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February 28, 2012
WILLEMSTAD — The number of tourists visiting the Caribbean area the past year has increased. Sean Smith, who is the statistics expert for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), announced this recently.The results booked by the tourist industry in Caribbean Netherlands slightly exceed those of the previous year with 4.9 percent. Considerable increases with 13.9 percent and 5.6 percent were registered particularly on Curaçao and Aruba respectively.
According to Smith’s estimations, 23.8 million tourists had visited the Caribbean area last year; an increase of 3.3 percent compared to 2010 when 23+ million tourists had chosen to visit this region.
From CTO’s main offices in Barbados, Smith reports that the results from all large markets in 2011 were poor. The number of stayover tourists from the United States increased with 1.7 percent compared to 2010. Anguilla, Barbados, Belize and Curaçao registered an increase of American tourists. A number of traditional top destinations for tourism from the United States registered a drop in the number of American tourists last year. However, Canada had surpassed all other markets again and the number of Canadian tourists in 2010 increased with 6.8 percent. This is a reflection of the constant growth in the market during the past five years. There had been no large changes in the pattern of destinations. Cancun, Cuba and the Dominican Republic registered the highest numbers for tourism from Canada. However, thirteen other CTO member states also registered an increase in tourism from Canada.
A summary of the 23 destinations that possess market information indicates that 14 had registered a growth in the number of tourists from Europe. Barbados is at the top of the list with 6.0 percent, followed by Cancun with 3.9 percent, Curaçao with 2.9 percent and Cuba with 1.1 percent are considered top destinations from the European market. Several other tourist resorts booked results on a smaller scale from Europe. Compared to 2010, the general figures for tourism from Europe remain low and the Caribbean area registered a 0.6 percent increase. With the exception of a slight drop registered in May and October, the Caribbean area showed an increase every month last year compared to 2010.
The total number of arrivals during the winter season (January to April) increased with 4.4 percent compared to an increase of 3.9 percent in the winter season of 2009. The increase during the summer season – ending in December – had not registered the expected growth of 3.0 percent.
The historic growth trend continued on the larger islands Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The results indicate an increase of 4.2 percent in this subgroup, which is responsible for at least half of the tourist results in the region. The larger group formed by the Commonwealth Countries, consisting of Caricom member states and Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands has registered a 2.2 percent increase, while the only French Caribbean destination reporting, shows an increase of 3.9 percent.
The Caribbean Community (Caricom) reports on the poor results from the European markets. The Caricum is recovering very slowly, as the increase in arrivals shows with 1.2 percent. This is the result of a moderate growth of 1.6 percent in the OECS-countries, linked to a 1-percent increase of arrivals in the other Caricom-countries.
Compared to 2010, 2011 showed a slight upward trend in the hotel sector. According to Smith Travel Research, an occupation percentage of 61.8 was registered compared to 60.3 percent in 2010, while the average room price increased from 163.36 dollars in 2010 to 167.56 dollars. These results show a slight improvement in the sub-sector.
“The tourist industry in the Caribbean area remains stable and resiliently defies the turbulence on the market”, said Smith. However, he warns that the region is not out of the danger zone yet. The figures show an unequal growth among the destinations and continue to influence the revenues.