Caribbean tourism experiences strong growth in 2023

Caribbean tourism experiences strong growth in 2023

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has reported that Caribbean tourism grew in 2023 with an estimated 14.3 per cent increase in international stay-over arrivals to the region, continuing its positive recovery trend.

Delivering the “Caribbean Tourism Performance Review 2023” in Bridgetown on Friday, Dona Regis-Prosper, Secretary-General of the CTO, shared that last year’s growth was in line with CTO’s forecast for the year.

According to Regis-Prosper, the recovery of global tourism has been resilient, despite variability in the regional performances, with the Caribbean surpassing pre-pandemic arrivals by a modest 0.8 per cent, outperforming most of the main global regions in terms of recovery.

Grace Bay Beach (Photo credit: iStock/jsnover)

“Based on preliminary data provided so far by the destinations in the Caribbean, tourist visits were approximately 32.2 million – about four million more than in 2022,” stated Regis-Prosper, who noted that the data showed that each month’s arrivals exceeded those of 2022 thus establishing a continuous growth trend over the past 33 months as tourism steadily rebounded toward pre-pandemic levels.

Arrival levels amongst Caribbean destinations either significantly recovered or moderately exceeded the benchmark numbers of 2019, with 11 destinations, Anguilla, Aruba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Maarten, Turks & Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands performing better than in 2019.

The majority of those recovered greater than 50 per cent of their 2019 arrivals. In addition, multiple destinations registered new record levels for tourist arrivals in a single year.

For the Caribbean, only the US market has fully recovered, while the recovery rates of arrivals from Europe and Canada reached 88.2 per cent and 88.1 per cent, respectively.

An estimated 16.3 million stay-over arrivals to the region came from the United States, representing an annual growth rate of 12.7 per cent.

The performance of the Canadian market resulted in an estimated three million Canadian tourist visits by the end of the year, an increase of 46.1 per cent compared to 2022.

Regis-Prosper noted that arrivals from Europe to the Caribbean region were stagnant in 2023. A total of approximately 5.2 million trips originated from the market.

In 2023, travel among Caribbean residents to destinations within the region increased by approximately 3.6 per cent, a total of 1.6 million trips, which was 0.3 million more compared to 2022. This also indicated a recovery of 62.5 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

“Despite this positive outcome, intra-regional travel remained expensive due to fragmented air service and reduced air capacity,” said Regis-Prosper.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean hotel sector experienced a remarkable turnaround in 2023, including a surge in the establishment of new hotels and resorts. According to STR, throughout the Caribbean, average room occupancy grew to 65.6 per cent in 2023 from 61 per cent in 2022.

In terms of Cruise Tourism Performance, preliminary data for 2023 showed that Caribbean destinations received an estimated 31.1 million cruise visits, reflecting an increase of 11.3 million visits or 56.8 per cent compared to 2019.

Projections indicate that the cruise sector will continue its upward track, with an estimated 34.2 million to 35.8 million cruise visits expected in the Caribbean in 2024.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Kenneth Bryan, noted the remarkable resilience of the tourism industry and its ongoing recovery and growth in 2023.

He noted that the CTO is pleased that the ICC (International Cricket Council) Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 is being hosted in several destinations bringing not only teams but also their loyal followers to the region and further raising awareness and promoting the diverse offerings of Caribbean destinations to global audiences.

  • PublishedMarch 18, 2024

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