The impact Hurricanes Maria and Irma had on the economy of several Caribbean continues is more visible on their tourism sector than any other, tourism officials are saying.
Latest statistics on the region’s tourism performance has been a tale of two situations because, on the one hand, there has been robust growth in countries that were not affected by last year’s hurricanes.
And on the other, there have been dramatic decreases in arrivals to those hit by the storms, although the performances of these countries are steadily improving.
Dominic Fedee, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers & Commissioners of Tourism at the Caribbean Tourism Organization says of the 22 reporting destinations, 13 of them registered increases in tourist arrivals during the first half of the year.
He was addressing the State of the Tourism Industry Conference in the Bahamas.
The performances of the key source markets varied considerably, with some destinations recording strong growth, while others registered declines.
“Some countries experienced declines of nearly 90 per cent in the British Virgin Islands, Dominica was down by 88.4 per cent, St. Maarten down 27.5 per cent, and the US Virgin Islands decreased by 22.5 per cent. Puerto Rico, though hurricane-impacted, posted a 1.1 per cent increase during the period,” he said.
He said the top performing destination during this period were Guyana at 18.3 per cent, Belize at 17.1 per cent, the Cayman Islands at 15.9 per cent, and Grenada at 10.7 per cent and the Bahamas at 10.2 per cent.
In the US market, for example, while Jamaica reported growth of 8.4 per cent, the Dominican Republic was up by 6.3 per cent and 11 other destinations achieved growth, six of which were by double digits, the Caribbean received Seven
million visits from the US during the first half of the year.
This he said was a 15.8 per cent decrease when compared to the corresponding period last year, due mainly to a 54.6 per cent fall in arrivals to Puerto Rico and decreases in arrivals to Cuba.