- State of the Tourism Industry 2018 (Media conference held Feb 2019)
Remarks from Ryan Skeete, Dir. Research & IT (acting)
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.
Having registered declines during the first eight months of the year, signs of a rebound emerged in September when the region recorded a 3% rise. The numbers in October confirmed the recovery, with a healthy 11.8% growth, and by the end of the year tourist arrivals in the last four months were up 9.8%.
Remarks from Hugh Riley, Secretary General, CTO
Once again we come to that time of year when we report to our members and to the industry on how the Caribbean performed in the previous year, why we performed the way we did, and what the projections are, for the months ahead. As always, the countries of the Caribbean are the main sources of our data, collected mostly at ports of entry and extracted from the immigration cards completed by travellers. Other sources are industry partners, originating markets and our own analysts.
Video of the conference
2019 CTO Media Conference
Posted by Caribbean Tourism Organization on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
- State of the Tourism Industry 2017 (Media Conference held Feb. 2018)
Link to infographic about the Caribbean’s tourism industry performance:
Tourism in Hurricane Impacted Countries Rebounding
BARBADOS (15 February 2017) –Hurricane affected countries are rebounding after last September’s devastation by Irma and Maria. The least affected countries are at or near normality, while the worst hit ones, which recorded decreases ranging from -18 percent to -7 percent in 2017, continue to make progress, five months after the storms.
Region Hits 30 Million Mark in Stay-Over Visitors
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Thurs 15 Feb., 2018) – The catastrophic hurricanes that devastated some Caribbean destination last September slowed down tourism’s progress but did not stop it, according to figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the authority on regional tourism statistics.
Remarks by Hugh Riley, Secretary General:
As you heard in the report from our Head of Research, Ryan Skeete, arrivals to the region hit a new record in 2017. 30.1 million stayover visits, and visitor expenditure of US $37 billion. In short, despite the severe challenges of 2017, more visitors arrived in the Caribbean, and they spent more. But is that enough? Is our work now over? Not by a long way. The Caribbean, with our highly competitive tourism product, has quite some distance to go in order to realize our full potential.
We’ll say more about that in a minute. But first: Coming up in the weeks and months ahead are occasions when the CTO will be sharing with the public and with industry stakeholders, more and more details on the plans to better capitalize on the opportunities that are available to the Caribbean.
Remarks by Ryan Skeete, Director of Research & IT (ag)
We are delighted to report that Caribbean tourism reached another milestone in 2017, surpassing 30 million stay-over/tourist visits for the first time and reaching an estimated US $37 billion in total visitor spending. This good news was despite the devastating September hurricanes. The performance in 2017 was primarily supported by sustained economic growth in all of our major source markets.
Stay-over arrivals were on track for a strong performance during the first-half of 2017, growing by an estimated 4.8%. However, there was a major slowdown in the second half performance due to the impact of the September hurricanes as tourist visits declined by 1.7%. These outcomes resulted in an overall increase of 1.7% to reach 30.1 million visits, marking the 8th consecutive year of growth, albeit slower than the average global growth rate of 6.7%. Therefore, the Caribbean market share of global visits in 2017 shrunk by 0.1 percentage points, to register 2.3% of the market.
Among the destinations, tourist arrivals showed uneven growth. Several countries reported double-digit increases in 2017 such as Saint Lucia (11%), Belize (10.8%), and Bermuda (10.3%), while the hurricane-impacted countries recorded decreases ranging from -18% to -7%.
The contributing factors to the excellent performances in those countries included greater air access from the source markets to the region and the realisation of significant investments, including hotels, to enhance the tourism product.
Regarding the major Caribbean sub-regions, the US Territories (-7.9%), the Dutch Caribbean (-6.6%) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (-3.6%) reported declines, while the grouping dubbed Other Caribbean comprising Cancun, Cozumel, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname, which accounts for almost half of all arrivals to the region, recorded an increase of 6.0% and Caricom recorded an increase of 1.7%.
Most major source markets recorded growth except the South American and Caribbean markets which declined by 6.5% and 1.3% respectively, reflecting weak economic conditions.
Our major source market, the U.S., grew by approximately 0.5% to reach an estimated 14.9 million visits to the region. This performance was attributed to solid economic growth, low unemployment rate and high consumer confidence in the US.
Arrivals from the European market totalled 5.8 million and improved by an estimated 6.2%, the strongest growth among the main markets, in spite of terrorist attacks in some countries, and the continuing Brexit negotiations and the related uncertainties.
Visits from the Canadian market rebounded in 2017, growing by 4.3% compared to a decline of 3.1% in 2016. The country’s strong economic performance and increased seat capacity to the region helped support this recovery.
Despite the slight increase in arrivals to the region, hotel occupancy fell by 1.2%, according to STR Inc (formerly Smith Travel Research), a U.S. company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry. However, the primary revenue metrics were all up, average daily rate (ADR) increased by 1.9% to $204.64, and revenue per available room grew by 0.7% to $135.85.
Notably, the hotel performance indicators excluded most of the hurricane-impacted destinations at this time, due to the disruption in operations caused by the hurricanes.
The September hurricanes caused significant disruption for airlines during the final quarter of 2017. As a result, seat capacity fell by 7.2% in the fourth quarter, according to OAG, an air travel intelligence company. Nevertheless, overall seat capacity increased by 1.7% in 2017, reflecting a solid first-half performance.
Cruise passenger arrivals also set a new landmark in 2017, despite the hurricanes, reaching an estimated 27.0 million visits to the region, which is 2.4% higher than recorded numbers in 2016. The cruise passenger performance mirrors the performance of tourist arrivals, as it grew strongly (4.6%) in the first half of 2017, but contracted marginally (-0.4%) in the second half of the year. Indeed, cruise passenger arrivals fell dramatically in September by some 20%. However, growth resumed in October, which saw a 2% increase.
Consistent with increases in stay-over and cruise visits, total visitor expenditure is estimated to have increased by approximately 2.6% to reach US$37.0 billion in 2017. This performance marks the eighth consecutive year of growth. Overall, stayover visitors spent an estimated US$34.2 billion or US$1,230 per trip compared to US$1,129 per trip in 2016.
Global economic conditions are expected to be favourable in 2018. All of the major economies are projected to grow strongly, oil prices are expected to remain relatively low, and hourly wages are expected to increase again in the US following years of stagnation. These factors bode well for tourism in the Caribbean. On the downside, there is rising geopolitical tensions, the persistent threat of major terrorist attacks, and the heightened risk of extreme weather events. Consequently, we are projecting that tourist arrivals will increase between 2 and 3% in 2018.
According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), booking data indicates that demand for Caribbean cruises remains quite strong. The demand is supported by their multimedia campaign, “The Caribbean is Open”, launched soon after the hurricanes. Consequently, we project that cruise arrivals will accelerate in 2018, to register a growth rate of between 2 and 3%.
The conference video is visible on CTO’s Facebook page.
2017 year-to-date (Jan-Oct.) & Forward looking for next 6 months: A focus on Travel Agencies Air reservation by Forward Keys
The presentation was delivered at the CTO media briefing at 2017 WTM. Forward bookings from Europe to the Caribbean are +2% ahead of last year’s booking situation for the next 6 months, and +11% ahead for the Christmas and New Year period (December 22nd 2017 to January 4th 2018). Scheduled capacity to the Caribbean is seeing double-digit growth from all European origins except Germany for the next 6 months. Capacity from France is scheduled to increase by 10.1%.
- State of the Tourism Industry 2016 (Media Conference held Feb. 2017)
Caribbean Tourism Industry Performance Report 2016
Presented by Hugh Riley, Secretary General
Thursday 9 February, 2017
Caribbean tourism continues to break new ground, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time in our history, and once again we have grown faster than the global average.
Despite political uncertainties, security and economic challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 per cent in 2016, better than the 3.9 per cent overall, internationally.
Encouragingly, we welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015, to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of growth for the seventh straight year.
In addition, cruise passenger arrivals grew by an estimated 1.3 per cent, to approximately 26.3 million.
The United States continued to be our primary long-stay market, increasing by three-and-a-half per cent and providing just about half of all arrivals. But while figures from the U.S National Travel & Tourism Office for the month of November showed that the Caribbean’s share of the U.S outbound market was second only to Europe, the growth rate was the slowest among all regions.
For the Caribbean it was from Europe where we saw the strongest growth. Despite terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum in the UK and bumpy economic outcomes across continental Europe, Caribbean arrivals from UK/Europe climbed by over 11 per cent, to reach 5.6 million, with the UK registering a growth of over four per cent, and Germany up by more than eight per cent.
The strong European performance was evident in the healthy increases of between 6 per cent and 16.8 per cent in each month, compared to the corresponding months in 2015.
The vexing issues of costly and fragmented intra-Caribbean travel were still in place last year. However, travel within the region increased for the second straight year, a clear sign of the interest by Caribbean people in taking vacations to their neighbouring countries.
Conversely, Canada, a strong and reliable market for us during the challenging recession years, was uncharacteristically feeble last year, recording a drop of nearly 3.5 per cent when compared to 2015.
No doubt, we are proud of our region’s performance in 2016 – the result of the combined efforts of our member countries, the CTO and our partners, who planned and executed a number of attractive and excellent programmes and activities to attract visitors and have them talking and writing and sharing images about the Caribbean.
Our Year of Romance, for example, received broad participation despite the threat of Zika, and our social media campaigns in support of the year reached over 20 million people.
Still, we had our shortfalls; our region did not break the 30 million arrivals barrier we had hoped for; but at 29.3 million there is still reason to celebrate.
Among the countries reporting increases, growth was uneven, ranging from flat, to as high as 19 per cent; while about one-fifth of the countries reported declines.
Our hotel partners also experienced negative results when compared to 2015. These are important metrics which require particular attention. While it is critically important to monitor the numbers of visitors we welcome to our shores, knowing where they stay, how long they stay, what they spend and what contribution they make to the overall economy are all vital data points.
According to Smith Travel Research, all hotel indicators were down, with the exception of the number of available rooms, which grew by just over one per cent. We’ll share more details on that, in the presentation which follows.
In conclusion, no doubt, 2016 will be remembered as another successful year for the Caribbean’s main foreign exchange earner, with new record levels of visitor expenditure, tourist- and cruise-passenger arrivals.
But the year will also be remembered as a challenging one for the hotel sector which continues to be under pressure.
In the months ahead, we expect that tourist arrivals to the region will grow at a slower rate; between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent in 2017. We also project increases of between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals. So all things being equal we’re expecting growth in 2017, but it will not be robust.
I will now ask our Acting Director of Research, Ryan Skeete to dissect the numbers and give us his analysis.
CTO State of the Industry Report 2016 – Dissecting the Numbers
Presented By Ryan Skeete, Director of Research & IT (ag)
I am going to discuss, in greater detail, the Caribbean tourism performance in 2016 and what to expect in 2017.
2016 marked another record setting year as for the first time in our history we received over 29 million arrivals. This is also the 7th consecutive year of growth and our estimated 4.2% increase in tourism trips is the 3rd consecutive year above the global growth rate.
Moreover, the average annual growth rate over the last 7 years slightly exceeded the average annual global growth rate of international trips. The performance in 2016 was primarily supported by sustained economic growth in the US, our main source market, and relatively low oil prices.
Following an increase in the Caribbean market share of global visits in 2015, rising by 0.1 percentage points, it remained steady at 2.4% in 2016.
Nevertheless, negative events such as a weak Canadian dollar and the most active hurricane season since 2012, especially in October, no doubt contributed to preventing our region from reaching the coveted target of 30 million arrivals.
Among the destinations, tourist arrivals showed uneven growth. Of the 28 destinations reporting data for varying periods between January and December, 22 recorded increases ranging from quite modest to a robust 17.5% (the Turks & Caicos Islands), while the remaining six destinations experienced declines. Besides Turks and Caicos Islands, 4 countries, Belize, Cuba, Guyana, and Bermuda reported double digit growth rates.
The contributing factors to these performances included greater air access from the source markets to the region and the realization of significant investments to enhance infrastructure (airport redevelopment) and product (hotels).
With the exception of the Dutch Caribbean (-5.6%), the major Caribbean sub-regions reported healthy growth.
The Other Caribbean countries’ market, which accounts for almost half of all arrivals to the region, recorded the fastest growth rate (7.4%) in 2016.
The Commonwealth Caribbean and French Caribbean grew by 4.1% and 4.2%, respectively.
A further look into the performance of our major source markets reveals that demand for Caribbean vacations rose in all of them, except Canada, which fell by 3.4%. A weak currency and sluggish first half economic output contributed to the decline in Canadian trips to the Caribbean. More than 70% of the reporting destinations reported decreases in arrivals from this market. Consequently, Canadian market share fell to 11.3%.
There were over 14.6 million U.S. visits to the region, 3.5% more than the previous year. This performance was attributed to solid economic growth, low unemployment rate and high consumer confidence in the US.
In particular, seven destinations recorded double digit increases within their reporting periods. This group includes Belize, the Turks & Caicos Islands, Bermuda, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada and Montserrat, while declines were recorded in six destinations.
Arrivals from the European market totalled 5.6 million and improved by an estimated 11.4%, the strongest growth among the main markets, in spite of terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum and mixed economic outcomes across continental Europe. In total, 72% of the reporting destinations registered increases in arrivals from this market. The top performing destinations, which registered double-digit increases, were the Turks & Caicos Islands, St. Maarten, Guyana and Anguilla.
Caribbean intra-regional travel broke another record in 2016, as arrivals rose by 3.6% to register just over 1.7 million trips, the second consecutive year of growth. Robust double-digit growth was experienced in Guyana, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The region received about 11% fewer tourist arrivals from South America in 2016 compared to 2015.
The improvement in arrivals to the Caribbean was not reflected in improved hotel performance. According to Smith Travel Research, the primary revenue metrics were slightly down.
The average daily rate (ADR) fell by less than a dollar to US$ 201.50 and revenue per available room contracted by 2.6% to US$ 134.48 while occupancy fell by 1.6 percentage points to 66.7%. This outcome reflects the rise of the sharing economy and additional hotel room stock.
However, it is important to note that the hotel revenue indicators are still above the performances recorded between 2012 and 2014.
2016 was also a record breaking year for Caribbean cruising, as, cruise passenger arrivals to the region grew by about 1.3% to reach 26.3 million, in line with expectations at the beginning of 2016.
Larger ships, port enhancements and new destinations on the Caribbean cruise itineraries helped to increase the attractiveness of Caribbean cruise holidays.
Overall, only 48% of the reporting destinations registered growth with the best performances occurring in the Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands and Grenada, which all grew by double digits, while Belize became the eighth destination to record over one million cruise passenger visits this year.
In total, the Caribbean received 33.7% of all cruise deployments in 2016.
Consistent with increases in stay-over and cruise visits, total visitor expenditure is estimated to have increased by approximately 3.5% to reach US$35.5 billion.
2016 saw the election of a new Republican Administration in the United States and the success of a referendum which mandates that the United Kingdom withdraw from the European Union. Both these events raise the level of global uncertainty, which could impact the performance of tourism in 2017 and beyond.
Cuba was the destination that offered the greatest growth potential. However, at the end of 2016, several US-based airlines, citing reduced demand, announced they were cutting some of the promised capacity for 2017 to the destination.
Altogether, we expect that tourist arrivals to the region will grow at a slower rate of between 2.5 and 3.5% in 2017.
Further expansion of the cruise industry is expected in 2017, as 26 new vessels with a combined capacity of over 30 thousand passengers are expected to sail from the shipyards. The anticipated rise in cruise passenger arrivals to the region is projected to be between 1.5% and 2.5%.
 Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten.
 Cancun, Cozumel, Cuba, Dom Republic, Haiti, Suriname
 OECS + Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands.
 Guadeloupe and Martinique
 a U.S. company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry and provide valuable market share analysis for international, regional hotel chains and independent hotels
- State of the Industry 2015 (Media Conference held Feb. 2016)
State of the Industry 2015 (Media Conference held Feb. 2016)
Statement by Hugh Riley, Sec. Gen. CTO
I’m pleased to announce that the first time ever, the pace of growth of Caribbean tourism outperformed every major tourism region in the world. Our region has set new arrival and spend records in 2015, far surpassing expectations.
Dissecting the Numbers – Ryan Skeete, Dir. Research & IT (acting)
2015 marked the 2nd consecutive year that tourist arrivals to the Caribbean grew faster than the global growth rate of international trips and the first year in recent history that we have outpaced all major regions, since we started keeping records.
Outbound Canada – Travel Trends & Trip Intentions (Nov. 2015) ~ Jennifer Hendry, Senior Research Associate, Canadian Tourism Research Institute
- 2011 - 2014 Tourism Reviews
State of the Industry 2014 (Media Conference held Feb. 10, 2015)
Download the documents from the State of the Industry Conference below:
Caribbean Tourism Review, End of Year 2014 ~ updated Feb. 11, 2015. Minor changes were made to Figure 2.2.2, Table A1 and the analysis of the cruise sector. Note that all estimates are unchanged.
2014 Third Quarter Review
The momentum in arrivals to the Caribbean which was seen at midyear (+4.5%) continued through the third quarter as in each month an increase in arrivals was recorded, 5.2% in July, 4.8% in August and 8.1% in September which is traditionally the slowest month of the year. Read 2014 third quarter review.
2014 Mid-Year Review
Demand for Caribbean vacations remained high in the second quarter of 2014 with each month outperforming the corresponding month of 2013. Growth in April (7.9%) was strongest owing largely to the celebration of Easter during that month. View 2014 mid-year review.
2014 First Quarter Tourism Review:
This past winter, which was one of the worst and longest in the Western Hemisphere, was characterized by massive snow storms and prolonged cold weather in the main source markets. View 2014 first quarter review
State of Industry 2013 ( Media Conference held Feb 10, 2014, USVI)
Download 2014 State of the Industry Report from CTO Chairman – amended
Download Caribbean Tourism Review 2014
Download press release on Visitor Arrivals
Download remarks from Winfield Griffith – Dissecting the Numbers – amended
State of Industry 2012 ( Media Conference held Feb. 2013)
The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression in 2008/2009. Last year, the Caribbean welcomed nearly 25 million tourists, that’s 5.4 percent more than in 2011 and the largest number of stayover visitors in five years.
State of Industry 2011 (Media Conference held Feb. 15, 2012)
Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean region remained buoyant in 2011, continuing the recovery process which began in 2010. Still, there were signs that we are not yet out of the woods. The figures revealed uneven growth among the destinations and revenue continued to lag arrivals.
- 2001 - 2010 Tourism Reviews
State of Industry 2010 (Media Conference held Feb. 2011)
Overall tourists arrivals to the region have increased in 2010. Cruise arrivals grew faster than land-based arrivals and aggregate spending is above previous years due to higher arrival numbers.
State of Industry 2009 Caribbean Tourism: First Three Quarters 2010
20 of 28 reporting countries showed increase in stay-over arrivals so far for the year; five destinations reported increases in excess of 10 % (Anguilla, BVI, Cancun, Saint Lucia and St. Eustatius) and another seven surpass the 5% threshold.
2009/2010: The State of Caribbean Tourism: Caribbean Tourism, Overview
Presented 10th June, 2010
Wider Caribbean Region tourists arrivals in the Caribbean continue to rebound. Aggregate tourists arrivals to the wider Caribbean as gauged by recorded arrivals from 23 of the 33 CTO member countries increased by 4.5% so far in 2010.
2008 – 2009
Although aggregate tourist arrivals to the wider Caribbean (ie all 33 CTO member countries) declined by 3.6% in 2009, quarterly data show successive improvements during the year.
Caribbean Tourism Performance – published Oct. 2008, by Winfield Griffith, Ag. Dir. Research & Information Management; Point presentation on industry performance Jan to Oct. 2008.: Includes data from 2002 – 2007.
Based upon the available returns from its 31 member countries, which encompass the English, French, Dutch, Spanish-speaking Caribbean as well as the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) estimates that tourist (stay-over) arrivals to the region increased by 3.6 percent to reach 22.5 million in 2005.
Based upon the available returns from its member countries, which encompass the English, French, Dutch, Spanish-speaking Caribbean as well as the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) estimates that tourist arrivals to the region grew by 7 percent to reach 21.8 million in 2004.
Caribbean Travel & Tourism “Tale of Paradoxes – By Air, By Land, By Sea: Industry Analysts Present the Facts ~ Hudson Husbands (PhD) – Chairman, Barbados Tourism Authority, Consulting Principal, Tourism Global Inc. in 2004 at CTC 27
According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourism worldwide declined in 2001, posted a modest increase in 2002 but declined again in 2003.
Review of Industry – 2001 (delivered in 2002)