The state of tourism in the Caribbean is sound!
That was the message from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), during a press conference held recently at its offices, located in the Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, in which the performance of the industry was discussed and projections made for 2015.
According to Chairman of the CTO and Barbados??? Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, 2014 saw a fifth straight year of growth in tourist arrivals in the Caribbean, with more visitors to the region than usual recorded and more money coming into the various economies.
???I am particularly pleased with our performance during the summer period, when our growth rate was almost twice that of the summer of 2013,??? he added, pointing out that summer was traditionally seen as an off-peak period, and as such, the increase in visitor arrivals during that time was encouraging.
The Minister also stated that the CTO would continue to focus on growth in the Caribbean tourism industry, as this was vital for the creation of opportunities for people of the region.
He added that it was also critical to the promotion of economic development and essential if the region was to position itself as ???the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination???.
He opined that this could be done by investing in a coordinated strategy to promote the Caribbean; making travel to the Caribbean as hassle- free as possible; and making tourism profitable for persons living in the Caribbean and tourism partners.
Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley, reiterated the growth in the tourist industry over the last year. He noted that 26.3 million persons came to the Caribbean in 2014, resulting in some US$29.2 billion being invested in the region. He explained that the number of visitors represented 1.3 million more than in 2013.
The Secretary General however stated that he was concerned with travel to OECS countries, as tourist arrivals in those islands had contracted by over three percent during the period under review.
Alternately, he disclosed that the Dutch Caribbean had the most growth during the period.??Mr. Riley also expressed some optimism that the upward trend in the tourist industry will continue in 2015.