Despite an unstable economy, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) – a coalition of 30 countries working towards the advancement of Caribbean peoples through the development sustainable tourism – is predicting moderate growth in 2010.
At a June 10, 2010 press conference in New York City, the CTO stated that 23 of the 33 CTO member countries are reporting a 4.5% increase in arrivals so far this year.
With a 6.5% spike in arrivals during the first four months of 2010, the United States has emerged as the region’s strongest market. Considering the double-digit decline experienced at the peak of the recession last year, this jump is reassuring for Caribbean countries that depend heavily on the arrival American tourists.
In contrast, European arrivals are declining at a rate of 4.3%. Poor performance by the European market has been linked to a declining Euro, unrest in the UK airline industry and international air travel being disrupted by Icelandic volcanic ash.
As airlines struggle to optimize profits from scheduled routes to and from the Caribbean, as well as inter-island flights, the region is experiencing a decline in travelers arriving by plane. In contrast, cruise visitor arrivals have increased by 4.5%. This particular data has left many Caribbean businesses hesitantly optimistic however. Yes, cruises do expose larger numbers of visitors to more Caribbean destinations, but cruise excursion packages are intercepting dollars that would otherwise go directly into a local economy.
Even with a jump in visitors arriving on cruise ships, Caribbean hotels are reporting growth this year. After hotel occupancy went down 4.1% in 2009, occupancy and average room rates both increased in the first quarter of 2010.
With the release of this information by the CTO, the region is expected to continue mining its strongest market, the United States. Destinations that depend heavily on European traffic will indeed struggle to balance profits and discounts, whereas destinations popular with American vacationers will attempt to maintain growth by extending eye-catching deals and promotions here in the United States.
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