By Alexander Britell
NEW YORK — Caribbean tourism is booming so far in 2019, according to new data from the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Air arrivals to the wider region were up by 12 percent in the first quarter of 2019, the region’s highest growth rate at that point in the calendar in years.
The new numbers were revealed during a media briefing during the CTO’s Caribbean Week in New York.
That included 9.1 million international tourist arrivals to the region in the first three months of 2019, representing an increase of almost 970,000 visitors to the Caribbean.
The region’s cruise industry also saw growth, with a jump of 9.9 percent in cruise passenger arrivals and a record total of 10.7 million arrivals in the period.
“It’s a very strong return to growth in the Caribbean,” said Saint Lucia Tourism Minister and current Caribbean Tourism Organization Chair Dominic Fedee.
The United States remained the region’s largest tourism source markets, accounting for 4.5 million tourists in the period, while Canada sent 1.5 million visitors to the Caribbean, itself a 4 percent increase.
The CTO’s research arm said it was “bullish” on its 2019 forecast, predicting between an eight and nine percent increase in tourist arrivals for the complete year.
“Overall, a statistical analysis of the first quarter gives us much to celebrate, as substantial numbers indicate healthy economic conditions in key source markets and a strong resurgence of tourism in destinations impacted by the 2017 hurricanes,” Fedee said.