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Bright tourism outlook

Natasha Beckles

Bright tourism outlook

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TOURISM?IN?THE?CARIBBEAN should continue to improve this year barring unforeseen international or regional economic or social trauma.
This projection comes from director of research and information technology with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Winfield Griffith, who said visitor arrivals were expected to increase by around five per cent.
“All indications are that the United States and Canadian markets would continue to perform well in terms of arrivals in 2011 as airlines continue to manage airlift and airfares in consonance with variable consumer demand,” he said yesterday during CTO’s annual state of industry Press conference at its Collymore Rock, St Michael office.
Griffith noted, however, that travellers were still expected “to hold a tight purse in light of continued uncertainty in their home economies and globally”.
He said travel from Britain was expected to improve marginally, at best, although some countries, especially in the eastern Caribbean, would benefit more than others as customary.
Arrival numbers were rising and hotels were seeing their revenue move in the right direction, albeit slowly.
Griffith also revealed that overall tourism performance improved in 2010, with stay-over arrivals up four per cent from the 22.1 million recorded in 2009.
“This figure puts us back to the level we saw in 2008 before the global economic recession and the British Air Passenger Duty (APD) took their toll,” he said, adding that cruise tourism was up by six per cent for 2010.
On the downside, Griffith said evidence indicated that average visitor spending was now back down to the level it was six years ago.
Overall, CARICOM countries recorded a 3.6 per cent rise in arrivals for the year that was marked by a 2.9 per cent increase in the OECS countries.
The Spanish-speaking Caribbean recorded six per cent growth, while Dutch Caribbean countries showed no material change in business, which was largely dampened by Curacao’s six per cent decline in arrivals.
Griffith noted that for the first time in three years, all four key hotel performance indicators were positive.
“The overall occupancy for the Caribbean increased by 3.1 per cent, average daily revenue went up 4.3 per cent and total room revenues by 7.1 per cent. Revenue per available room also rose by 7.5 per cent,” he said.
Griffith, however, noted that hotel revenues continued to fall short of where they were four to five years ago and the accommodation sub-sector would still be under considerable pressure to sustain operations at past levels.
United States arrivals went up by 5.7 per cent to surpass the pre-recession level of 11.5 million, while visitors from Canada increased by four per cent.
Griffith said arrivals from Canada showed steady increases in the past four years and there was no evidence of falling average spending in that market.
A total of 1.1 million land-based visitors came from Britain, down from 1.4 million in 2007.