Travellers from the United States (US) and Canadian markets will continue to "carry the sway" in regional tourism arrivals, but United Kingdom (UK) travel to the Caribbean is expected to "improve marginally at best".

So says Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Beverly Nicholson-Doty, in her State of the Industry report, which illustrated some of the challenges and trends experienced by the sector over the past year.

The CTO Chairman indicated that visitor traffic to the region should see a four to five percent increase this year and based this optimism on the positive signs of growth following earlier down years. "We are optimistic because we see arrival numbers rising, particularly out of North America; we see hotel revenues moving in the right direction,

albeit with moderate acceleration and we see tourist spend on the increase," she said, adding that 2012 saw the Caribbean welcome nearly 25 million tourists – a 5.4 per cent increase over 2011 – and the largest number of stayover visitors in five years.

However, this hope was accompanied by some difficult truths, especially where travel from the UK was concerned, where "the travelling population continues to be daunted by an ailing economy and further applications of the onerous Air Passenger Duty".?? Mrs. Nicholson-Doty also observed that cruise tourism "has been flat region-wide for each of the last three years. Intra-regional shifting of cruise schedules resulted in fairly significant increases in the northern Caribbean activity offset by reductions in that of the south".

She continued: ??"The numbers from the UK suggest that business from this very important market for several CTO member countries remains depressed. A total of one million land-based visitors came from the UK to the Caribbean last year, down from 1.1 million in 2011. That’s a steep drop of 10 per cent. The number has declined significantly in the past three years in the backdrop of weak European economies…"

With these statistics considered, the CTO Chairman remained positive of the outlook for the region and suggested that "barring any international or regional unforeseen economic or social trauma in 2013, the indicators of Caribbean tourism performance should continue to move in a positive direction."??


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