The news that the Caribbean region is showing sign of recovery is not surprising for many business owners who study Small Business Marketing. The number of people traveling to the bustling Caribbean is bouncing back to pre-recession levels, with visitors from Canada and the U.S. giving the largest boost.
Approximately 25 million tourists visited the Caribbean last year, which represents more than 5 percent increase from 2011. It’s a growth rate that reportedly outpaced the rest of the world, which saw arrivals increase by 4 percent, said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairwoman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.
“All the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying,” said Nicholson-Doty. “The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression.”
The Caribbean also saw its largest number of stayover visitors in five years, with the region’s overall hotel occupancy increasing by more than 7 percent and total room revenues up by nearly 9 percent.
And tourists spent big while visiting the Caribbean last year, dropping more than $27 billion, a more than 3 percent increase from 2011. The numbers mark a return to pre-recession levels, Nicholson-Doty said.
The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands fared the best, reporting a nearly 7 percent ncrease in tourists. Coming in second for visitor arrivals was the Dutch Caribbean, reporting a 5.6 percent increase from 2011 thanks to a surge in business from South America. The most popular islands were Curacao and Aruba, just north of Venezuela.
The bulk of tourists visiting the Caribbean come from the U.S., a number that increased by more than 4 percent last year, on par with pre-recession levels five years ago. Canada also remained one of the Caribbean’s largest markets, with tourists from that country increasing by nearly 6 percent in 2012.
Meanwhile, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom dropped by 10 percent to 1 million last year, withtourism officials blaming weak European economies and high airfares coupled with a controversial air passenger duty.
Cruise ship tourism was flat across the Caribbean for the last three years. Some islands suffered more than others, with Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands seeing a double-digit percentage drop in cruise ship passenger arrivals last year.
Granted with a few cruise ship ‘disasters’ recently tourists may curb their cruise ship traveling but we’re seeing an increase in air flights ‘down-island’. Rest assured tourists and general travelers will still come to the compelling Caribbean… and spend their money while here. And this makes learning and deploying Small Business Marketing strategies all that much more vital. Rich Sadler – Your Caribbean Marketing Director