BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday December 28, 2018 – As
the Caribbean tourism sector prepares to welcome the New Year, the Caribbean
Tourism Organization (CTO) says it’s looking forward to 2019 with a sense of
optimism, excitement and much hope.
“For 2019, the outlook
is bright for our destinations….We are optimistic because we are seeing signs
that the lows which Mother Nature imposed upon us during the latter part of
2017 into 2018 are being reversed,” said CTO Secretary-General Hugh Riley.
“We are excited about
our prospects because of the incredible turnaround that we are seeing in the
most impacted destinations. And we hopeful that the progress of our member
countries and supporters can continue unabated, to maintain the momentum they
developed since the storms of 2017 when everyone rolled up their sleeves and
got down to work to build an improved and more sustainable product.”
Riley said the CTO was
also pleased to report that tourism accommodations are being rebuilt and
reopened, airports are receiving their full schedule of flights with the return
of airlines in full force and the diverse product offerings within our destinations
are being restored.
At the same time,
increases in the number of available seats, positive messaging and promotions
in the marketplace have enabled the unaffected destinations to register
“The demand among
international visitors is strong and Caribbean nationals have continued their
quest to explore and enjoy the pleasures of their neighbouring destinations,”
Regarding the cruise
sector, the CTO Secretary-General said most ports have been repaired and cruise
calls have already returned to normal levels.
“Indeed, regional cruise
visits grew in each month since May, with the region registering growth of 13.7
per cent during the May to September period and 17.1 per cent in the third
quarter of 2018,” he reported.
“In October, the region
launched a digital awareness campaign, ‘The Rhythm Never Stops’ on social media
platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, coinciding with augmented airlift for
the 2018/19 tourist winter season. Travel professionals and their clients
received the message that the Caribbean is a resilient region with an
unstoppable resolve to succeed and to keep on moving in the right direction.”
Riley added that the CTO
was quite excited about declaring 2019 the “Year of Festivals” in the
Caribbean. The Year of Festivals will focus on the fascinating events that have
become an integral part of the Caribbean tourism calendar.
At the same time, the
CTO official said tourism stakeholders must also approach the New Year with a
degree of caution since there’s still much work to be done.
“While preliminary data
from our member countries revealed increased demand for travel to the vast
majority of the 24 reporting countries, and despite a 9.1 per cent increase in
arrivals in September 2018 when compared to the same month in 2017, overall our
performance was still down in 2018. A third quarter decline of 3.2 per cent
made this our best quarter, and the rate of tourist arrivals is now expected to
slow to -1.0 per cent to -2.0 per cent – a definite sign that the tide is turning.
Cruise passenger arrivals are projected to grow at an accelerated rate of
around 6 per cent to 7 per cent,” he said.
Riley reminded that the
region is in a stronger position than it was a year ago.
He said the evidence is
clear that a strong, unified Caribbean gives the region a global advantage
which individual member-countries on their own have little chance of attaining.
“The success of our countries rests upon our ability to speak as a region with one strong voice,” he said.