Monday, April 22, 2024

Positive signs, but slower growth in region

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A senior regional tourism official is urging Barbados and other Caribbean destinations not to be “cocky, complacent or over-confident” despite “positive signs that a recovery is in progress”.
Caribbean Tourism Organisation chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty issued the caution as she delivered the CTO’s latest State Of The Industry Report last week.
Nicholson-Doty, who is the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) Commissioner of Tourism, was speaking at Government House, St Thomas, USVI.
She said there were “positive signs that a recovery is in progress” as indicated by “the rise in estimated visitor spend, with expenditure growing quicker than visitor arrivals for the first time in three years”.
“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,” the CTO official said.
“The strongest indicator of progress is the rate of visitor expenditure. Fuelled by the accommodation sector, visitors to the region spent over USD$28 billion in 2013, an increase of  2.3 per cent when compared to 2012.
The hotel sector performed even better, recording a rise of over seven-and-a-half per cent in room revenues. During this period all the performance indicators remained positive.”
As for the 2014 outlook, Nicholson-Doty said while it was evident that the “atmosphere of despair has lifted and the Caribbean anticipates an improved performance in 2014”, challenges remained and “clearly, we continue to face challenges, therefore, we can be neither cocky, complacent or over confident”.
“We have to fight to boost arrivals both from the traditional markets and new and emerging markets. The figures suggest that South America has immense potential,” she 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 activity is also expected to pick up, with more ships being delivered. Several of these ships will be deployed in regional waters. The CTO predicts that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean will increase by about three per cent in 2014.”
The chairman found it noteworthy that although there were positive signs in the Caribbean tourism performance last year, this was “tempered somewhat by the fact that the overall growth rate slowed last year in comparison to 2012”.
And importantly for Barbados and other destinations heavily dependent on British visitors, Nicholson-Doty said this market “remains sluggish”.
“Under a million visitors came to the Caribbean from the UK last year. That’s down nearly one-and-a-half per cent. This fall in demand for Caribbean holidays can be attributed to the Air Passenger Duty and low economic growth of under two per cent last year,” she said. (SC)

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