By Alexander Britell
It was a record-breaking year for the Caribbean region last year, even in the face of a pair of historic hurricanes.
The Caribbean welcomed more than 30 million travelers for the first time ever, according to the latest report from the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.
“These outcomes resulted in an overall increase of 1.7 per cent in 2017, making it the eighth consecutive year of growth,” said Ryan Skeete, the CTO’s director of research.
That was, unsurprisingly, a slower growth rate than would have been seen without the hurricanes; indeed, Caribbean tourism arrivals were up by almost percent in the first half of 2017.
The 30 million stayover visitors were accompanied by 27 million cruise passengers, itself a 2.4 percent increase over the previous year.
The region’s stayover visitors contributed more than $37 billion to the Caribbean economy, according to the CTO, which was a 2.6 percent increase over 2016.
The United States remained the dominant source market for Caribbean tourism, with just under 15 million visitors coming to the Caribbean, followed by Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom.
And the trend is looking up for the region in 2018, with the CTO predicting growth of two to three percent in both stayover and cruise arrivals.