Visitor Expenditure Up As Tourism Spend Outpace Arrivals For The First Time In Three Years

Caribbean Tourism Organization

Press Release

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St Thomas (CTO) — The Caribbean recorded a rise in visitor expenditure in 2013 when compared to 2012, with the spending rate outpacing that of visitor arrivals for the first time in three years.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the authority on Caribbean tourism arrival statistics and visitor spend, announced today that visitors to the Caribbean spent an estimated US$28.1 billion in 2013, up 2.3 per cent over 2012. This was fuelled by the accommodation sector which recorded a 7.5 per cent rise in room revenues, the CTO chairman and commissioner of tourism for the USVI, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, revealed.

Quoting figures from Smith Travel Research, an American company that tracks supply and demand data for the hotel industry, Ms. Nicholson-Doty observed that the three main indicators for the accommodation sector – room rates, revenue per available room and occupancy – all showed positive signs of growth in 2013.

“There wasn’t a single month during 2013 that any of these indicators fell below 2012 levels,” said the CTO chairman at a news conference here to deliver the 2013 State of the Industry Report compiled by the research division of the CTO.

In addition to increased expenditure, Ms. Nicholson-Doty pointed to dramatic rises in visitor arrivals from South America and travel within the region as evidence that the Caribbean’s tourism industry is showing signs of progress.

“We see this progress in the record number of overall arrivals in 2013. This progress is manifested in the rapid rise in the number of visitors from South America who are coming to the Caribbean in record numbers. You can tell there’s progress when a record number of Caribbean residents travelled within the region for touristic purposes, despite transportation challenges,” she told journalists gathered at Government House, as well as regional and international media following the live stream.

An estimated 1.5 million tourists from South America visited the Caribbean last year, up 13 per cent over 2012 and 70 per cent higher than the 859 thousand who visited in 2009. Meanwhile, travel among Caribbean destinations grew by 2.1 per cent in 2013, with estimated 1.6 million Caribbean people travelling for touristic purposes.

However, the CTO chairman warned that these positive signs were tempered by a slowdown in the overall growth rate – a 1.8 per cent rise in arrivals. That was a lot slower than the 4.9 per cent rise in 2012. Still the Caribbean welcomed over 25 million stayover visitors last year, up from 24.6 million in 2012.

Ms. Nicholson-Doty said that the US market continued its recovery, with arrivals up nearly three per cent, but that Canada was flat with a marginal rise of 0.7 per cent, the lowest year-over-year growth in this market since 1997. The UK and Europe, she said, were sluggish, with arrivals from the UK down to under a million visitors – a 1.4 per cent drop – and Europe overall down 3.75 per cent. Cruise passenger visits were up 2.7 per cent to 21.8 million.

“It’s evident that the atmosphere of despair has lifted and the Caribbean anticipates an improved performance in 2014,” the CTO chairman said. “It’s generally expected that global economies will perform better in 2014, with the IMF predicting one per cent growth across Europe and 2.8 per cent in the US. The demand for travel, therefore, will remain buoyant. As a result, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean are expected to rise between two and three per cent in 2014.”

Cruise arrivals, she added, are likely to rise by about three percent in 2014.

About The Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of over 30 countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination by 2017, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, research and information technology.

In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.

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