NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas’ rosy projections for tourism growth this year is being backed by The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with forecasts of six to seven per cent growth in tourism arrivals around the region for 2019.
“The outlook for Caribbean tourism in 2019 is cautiously optimistic,” said the CTO’s Director of Research & IT Ryan Skeete. “Global demand for international travel is expected to remain strong, underpinned by healthy economic activity.
“The numbers in October confirmed the recovery, with a healthy 11.8 per cent growth, and by the end of the year tourist arrivals in the last four months were up 9.8 per cent.”
In a recent region-wide press conference, officials revealed The Bahamas was one of several countries that recorded double-digit growth in overall arrivals, along with Guyana, Belize, St, Kitts & Nevis, The Cayman Islands and Grenada.
Skeete said the contributing factors for growth in these countries include sustained targeted marketing, upgraded tourism infrastructure, additional rooms and enhanced airlifts. Overall, he said 29.9 million stop-over tourists visited the Caribbean region in 2018. That number is the second highest on record and is only surpassed by the 30.6 million who visited the year before.
“With a strong performance during the last four months of 2018, including a robust showing by countries impacted by the 2017 hurricanes, the evidence suggests that Caribbean tourism is on the upswing,” said Skeete.
While the U.S. remained the largest market for visitor arrivals, Canada outperformed all markets last year with 5.7 per cent growth and nearly of 3.9 million visits to the Caribbean region.
Still, most of the growth expected in 2019 will come from the hurricane-affected countries like St. Maarten and Puerto Rico as their tourism products continue to come back online following the natural disasters that damaged their economies.
“We are projecting that tourist arrivals will increase by between six and seven per cent in 2019, as the damaged infrastructure in the hurricane-impacted destinations returns to capacity,” he said. “Similarly, cruise arrivals should expand by a further four per cent to five per cent.”
Compared to the year before, cruise passenger arrivals to the region were up 6.7 per cent to nearly 28.9 million.
Skeete cautioned that there were still some factors that could affect this growth.
“We must recognize that there are significant headwinds to navigate,” he added. “These include, but are not limited, to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the on-going trade war between the US and China and potentially extreme weather events in the destinations and marketplaces.”