Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Caribbean tourism once again on growth track

Photos © Lyndah Wells-
Resorts such as Taino Beach on Grand Bahama Island are expected to see a better year ahead.


By MIMI WHITEFIELD
mwhitefield@MiamiHerald.com

After a bleak 2009, the sun has started to poke out from the clouds in most Caribbean tourism destinations.
Visitors from the recession-weary U.S. were up 6.5 percent during the first four months of this year and most destinations are once again on a growth track, according to the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Arrivals of tourists who stayed longer than just for day trips began picking up in the fourth quarter of 2009, but they were still down 3.6 percent for the year and hotel occupancy fell by 4.1 percent.
Leading the way in the recovery are Jamaica, where arrivals were up 7.3 percent from January to April, the Dominican Republic, up 2.5 percent with 2.2 million arrivals from January to June, and the Bahamas, where tourism stopovers were up 1.6 percent, according to CTO data.

 Photo © Lyndah Wells
Resorts such as Taino Beach on Grand Bahama Island are expected to see a better year ahead.
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Cuba, the No. 2 destination based on number of arrivals, welcomed 1.22 million visitors in the January to May period for a 1.2 percent increase.
The trend was especially noticeable in the Eastern Caribbean, which depends more heavily on European tourists than northern Caribbean islands closer to the United States, said Winfield Griffith, director of research at the CTO.
It appears visitors also are keeping a tighter grip on their wallets.
``Travelers are proceeding with a great deal of caution when it comes to spending because of the global economic crisis,'' said Griffith. ``From what I can glean, I would say spending is down about 5 percent.''
One reason is that during the downturn many hotels and airlines discounted prices. But as the economy recuperates, Griffith said he expects prices will too.
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