The Caribbean By The Numbers

With Martha Chapman

Johnson Johnrose; Selma Brown Bramble & Hugh Riley, all of CTO

Shelley John, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Alison Theodore of St. Lucia with Body Holiday booster Judy Duncan

Bahamas Tourist Office’s Paul Strachan; Janet Cuffie & Steven Johnson

There’s no doubt your clients love those Caribbean statistics: dozens of cruise itineraries. Hundreds of all-inclusive resorts. Temperatures in the high 20s. And zero chance of snow.

But members of the media were treated to a whole set of other numbers this week as Hugh Riley, Secretary General & CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, spoke at the annual CTO celebrations in T.O. which also included a media trade show.

“Arrivals are strong, up 5.8% as of the end of June compared to last year,” the genial head of the 30 country association told the group. “That means we were at 14.8 million, up 800,000 year over year.”

And while the big destinations such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are all posting increases, it’s smaller destinations are also showing impressive gains: Curacao up 39%; Suriname up 30 and Barbados up 28.

Hotel indicators are also positive with room occupancy up - at 74.6% cent compared to 72% last year.  And cruise stats reflect an impressive 13.7 million visits, up almost 3% – a crucial number in a destination which is the single largest cruise region in the world.

And what about our poor, limping looney? A combination of the price certainty at all inclusive resorts (i.e. no sticker shock on arrival) plus the appeal to well-heeled travellers for whom a 75¢ dollar is no hardship, and it looks like Canucks are still heroes in the sunny south. And lots of that is thanks to Canadian agents.

“Travel agents are critically important to the growth of the Caribbean – and we are also very pleased to see growth in the incentive and convention market,” said Riley. “We must never forget to say thank you to them!”

(will not be published)