CTO: Tourism showing signs of recovery
KINGSTON — The tourism industry in the Caribbean is showing signs of recovery with the sector recording a 5.4 per cent increase last year as compared to 2011, a senior Caribbean Tourism Organisation official has said.
CTO Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty said that the state of the industry gives “reason to be optimistic” and that “all the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying”.
She said visitor arrivals to the Caribbean, especially from the North American market, had increased and hotel revenues were moving “in the right direction, albeit with moderate acceleration.
“Of all our major markets, Canadian arrivals showed the greatest buoyancy throughout the challenges of the recessionary period. In fact, arrivals from Canada have continued to move upward over the past five years. Arrivals went up by 5.9 per cent in this market in 2012. There was also no evidence of falling average visitor spending on the part of the Canadians.”
Tourists were also spending more during their stay in the region. Figures show an estimated US$27.5 billion was spent by visitors to the Caribbean last year, a 3.6 per cent increase over the previous year and the third successive year of increase.
Nicholson-Doty said this marks a return of aggregate spending by visitors to the pre-recession level.
“The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic recession in 2008/2009. Last year, the Caribbean welcomed nearly 25 million tourists; that’s 5.4 per cent more than in 2011 and the largest number of stay-over visitors in five years. This rate of growth outpaced the rest of the world, which saw arrivals increase by four per cent.”
But Nicholson-Doty, who is also the United States Virgin Islands Commissioner, noted that amidst these positive signs “is the stark reality that some of our member countries are still hard-pressed to recover, particularly those that rely heavily on the British market”.
She blamed an ailing British economy and the “onerous Air Passenger Duty” that London first instituted in 1994 as an environmental tax aimed at offsetting aviation’s carbon footprint.
Regional governments have been lobbying London to remove the tax, which they said negatively affects the growth of the tourism industry, since the Caribbean has been placed in a band that makes travel to the region much more expensive than travelling from London to the United States. (Observer)