Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano as it roared to life on July 18, 1995.
BRADES, Montserrat – Montserrat last year recorded its highest victor arrivals since the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted on the British Overseas Territory in 1995.
Figures released by the Montserrat Tourism Division, (MTD), show that visitor arrivals to the island in 2019 stood at 20 956 an increase of 14 per cent over the previous year and “signalling the first time since the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in 1995 that the number has crossed 20 000”.
The MTD said a 59 per cent increase in cruise visits was largely responsible for the overall growth and this was complemented by a two per cent increase in stayover arrivals.
It said that visitors from the Caribbean region led the way, accounting for 19 per cent of total stayover visits, followed by the United Kingdom (13.4 per cent) and the United States (12.6 per cent).
“We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to surpass the threshold of 20 000 visitors. It tells us that we’re on the right track with our marketing initiatives and that if we are able to be consistent in our delivery, we could continue the growth trend,” said the Director of Tourism, Warren Solomon.
The figures released by the MTD show that there had also been a one per cent growth in visitor spend, amounting to EC$27 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents).
The MTD said that this means that although more people are visiting the island, this is not being fully reflected in their level of expenditure, but remains confident that its product development initiatives, some of which include enhancements to the trail network and beach facilities, service training in the tourism sector and the construction of a Volcano Interpretive Centre would stimulate increased activity and spending by visitors to the island.
“We recently launched a new survey tool that will capture both the sentiments of our visitors, as well as more accurate estimates of their expenditure,” said Product Development Officer, Rosetta West-Gerald, adding “this will allow us to better understand both the positive or negative impacts of our product offerings and make adjustments where necessary”.
The MTD said that among some of the new initiatives it plans for 2020 include the launch of a new website to enhance its digital marketing capabilities, a more aggressive approach to going after the group and excursion markets in Antigua, and a number of trade and consumer initiatives in the US, UK and Canada. (CMC)