by Clive Bacchus
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Tourist arrivals in the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) member countries declined by 65.5 percent last year compared to 2019.
The CTO reports just over 11 million visited the region in 2020 compared to 32 million in 2019.
It also estimated that visitor spend last year declined by 60 to 80 percent based on information from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the limited reporting by Caribbean countries.
Cruise visits declined by 72 percent to 8.5 million compared to the 30 million visits in 2019.
Preliminary data indicates that the average length of stay for 2020 remained at roughly seven nights, the same as in 2019.
A period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March – the second quarter was the worst-performing with arrivals down by 97.3 percent.
“But tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to reopen. Still, the fall-off in stay-over arrivals continued through to September – when a gradual reversal began – and continued right up to December. Destination initiatives such as the long-stay work programmes, other promotional activities, and efforts of regional organisations such as the CTO, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency contributed to the gradual rise in arrivals.”
The Caribbean’s performance in 2021 will depend largely on the success of the authorities in the marketplace and the region in combating, containing and controlling the virus, the CTO predicted.
“Already, there are some encouraging signs like the vaccine roll-out taking place in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean.
“However, this must be tempered by some other factors such as: lockdowns in our key source markets which are expected to continue into the second quarter, international travel confidence not expected to pick up until summer 2021, a steep fall in the number of people planning to travel abroad and the possible requirement by the authorities in our key markets for their citizens to vaccinate before traveling abroad.
With these factors taken into consideration, our initial forecast is for a 20 percent rise in arrivals in 2021, with a similar increase in visitor expenditure, when compared to 2020.”