Record high

More visitors and more spending recorded in 2017

Visitors to Barbados and the rest of the region continue to spend more, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Acting Director of Research at the Barbados-based CTO, Ryan Skeete, told a media briefing this morning that stay-over tourists to the region surpassed 30 million last year for the first time, and they spent about US$37 billion despite two devastating hurricanes in September.

“Consistent with increases in stay-over and cruise visits, total visitor expenditure is estimated to have increased by approximately 2.6 per cent to reach US$37 billion in 2017. This performance marks the eighth consecutive year of growth. Overall, stay-over visitors spent an estimated US$34.2 billion or US$1,230 per trip compared to US$1,129 per trip in 2016,” Skeete said in his CTO Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2017 and Outlook.

Noting that the performance last year was primarily supported by sustained economic growth in all major source markets, the CTO official said stay-over arrivals grew by an estimated 4.8 per cent during the first half of 2017.

However, he explained that there was a major slowdown in the second half, with visits declining by 1.7 per cent due to the impact of the powerful hurricanes.

“These outcomes resulted in an overall increase of 1.7 per cent to reach 30.1 million visits, marking the eighth consecutive year of growth, albeit slower than the average global growth rate of 6.7 per cent. Therefore, the Caribbean market share of global visits in 2017 shrunk by 0.1 percentage points to register 2.3 per cent of the market,” Skeete told journalists at the CTO’s Baobab Tower, Warrens, St Michael headquarters.

Skeete also brought good tidings regarding cruise passengers, reporting that the sector set a new landmark in 2017, reaching an estimated 27 million visits to the region, 2.4 per cent higher than recorded numbers the year before.

“The cruise passenger performance mirrors the performance of tourist arrivals as it grew strongly (4.6 per cent) in the first half of 2017, but contracted marginally (-0.4 per cent) in the second half of the year. Indeed, cruise passenger arrivals fell dramatically in September by some 20 per cent. However, growth resumed in October, which saw a two per cent increase,” the CTO official revealed.

Skeete also said the category five hurricanes Irma and Maria caused significant disruption for airlines during the final quarter of 2017, with seat capacity falling by 7.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, although there was an overall increase of 1.7 per cent.

Skeete’s report also noted that despite the slight increase in arrivals to the region, hotel occupancy fell by 1.2 per cent.

However, he said the primary revenue metrics were all up, with the average daily rate having increased by 1.9 per cent to $204.64 and revenue per available room growing by 0.7 per cent to $135.85.

He pointed out, though, that the hotel performance indicators excluded most of the hurricane-affected destinations due to the disruption in operations.

Skeete also reported that most major source markets recorded growth, with the exception of  South American, which declined by 6.5 per cent , and the Caribbean, which fell by 1.3 per cent, reflecting weak economic conditions.

He noted that the US market grew by about 0.5 per cent to reach an estimated 14.9 million visits to the region, while arrivals from Europe totaled 5.8 million, improving by about 6.2 per cent.

“Visits from the Canadian market rebounded in 2017, growing by 4.3 per cent, compared to a decline of 3.1 per cent in 2016. The country’s strong economic performance and increased seat capacity to the region helped support this recovery,” Skeete disclosed.

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