According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, headquartered in Barbados, the prognosis for travel and tourism in the Caribbean is positive despite challenges from abroad, like high prices, the conflict in Ukraine, the resulting energy crisis, and an imminent economic decline. Neil Walters, the acting secretary general of the CTO, delivered the region’s “Tourism Performance and Outlook Report” for 2022 in Bridgetown. He confirmed that the Caribbean had one of the fastest recovery rates globally in 2022, with 28.3 million registered tourist visits, or 88.6% of those who came in 2019, which served as the baseline year for typical tourism activity before the pandemic.
According to Walters, the U.S. market, which continues to fuel the region’s recovery, is anticipated to help foreign tourism add to the region’s significant gains already recorded. In 2022, it was predicted that visits from the U.S. market would rise by 28.1%. 14.6 million American visitors came to the area by the end of the year, an increase of 3.2 million from 11.4 million in 2021.
In comparison to 2021, arrivals from the European market rose by 81 percent in 2022. Compared to 2021, the 5.2 million visitors from this region represented almost a twofold increase, and in 2022, this accounted for 18.3% of all entries.
Early 2022 travel limits caused a slower-than-expected recovery for the Canadian market (60 percent), and the absence of an intra-regional airlift has hurt regional connectedness.
According to Walters, nearly 90% of the region’s travel demand for 2019 has already been recovered, surpassing pre-pandemic levels in places like Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to Walters, the Caribbean destinations can anticipate that this rebound will last into 2023, albeit at a slower rate. Walters also predicted that development would vary by destination, with more countries and regions exceeding their 2019 levels.
STR said the typical hotel daily rate rose 21.7 percent to $290.60 last year. The number of available rooms (up 4.4%) and room revenue (up 73.6%) increased. The revenue per available room climbed by 66.4 percent to $176.46. The aviation sector experienced two difficult years, but in 2022, flight travel worldwide experienced a substantial recovery.
Between $36.5 and $37.5 billion is predicted to be spent by tourists in the Caribbean in 2022, a 70 to 75 percent rise from 2021.
In comparison to 2022, it is anticipated that the area will receive between 10 and 15 percent more visitors altogether, with 31.2 to 32.6 million people traveling there this year. With 32 to 33 million projected ship passenger visits—a five to ten percent rise over the pre-COVID baseline figure—the cruise industry is also expected to continue recovering and expanding to satisfy rising demand.
Kenneth Bryan, the Cayman Islands’ minister of tourism and transport and the chairman of the CTO’s council of ministers and commissioners of tourism, succinctly stated that in the face of the pandemic’s devastating blows, as a region, we have responded with hope, strength, and the determination to prevail. Bryan reaffirmed that the Caribbean tourist industry had made significant progress and that the recovery speed would last through 2023 and beyond.
In other words, he said the needle is moving in the right direction, even though we have yet to quite surpass 2019’s numbers across the board in every jurisdiction.
Bryan saw 2023 as a time of expansion and development for the CTO, and he and his staff were committed to expanding the membership, which now included nations, regions, and allies. To promote better collaboration, he added, I also intend to strengthen relationships with other organizations, such as the United Nations World Travel Organization, the World Travel & Tourism Council, and even the Central American Tourism Agency (CATA).
He affirmed that consideration is given to the organization’s revamping and changing its strategic vision and direction for the following five years, including the nomination of a new secretary-general.
Bryan said his team was committed to addressing the nagging problem of air connectivity, a complex one that has been made worse by the evaluation of airline business structures and the global pilot shortage, when announcing the return of CTO’s “Caribbean Week” in New York, to be held from June 5-8, 2023.
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