maho bay
Maho Bay in St John, USVI.

US Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic Lead Caribbean Travel Boom 

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - September 13, 2023

Caribbean tourism is sizzling right now, and the region is seeing double-digit growth over pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report from air ticketing analytics firm ForwardKeys. 

The company says it is predicting “significant” growth in the Caribbean in the fourth quarter of this year, driven by destinations like the Dominican Republic, the US Virgin Islands and Curacao, among others. 

The Dominican Republic is projected to see 54 percent in international arrivals in the fourth quarter, as compared to the same period in 2019. 

Bahamas Punta Cana Hotels
The Fred hotel in St Croix.

The US Virgin Islands is projected to show 39 percent growth in international arrivals above 2019, while Curacao and Turks and Caicos are at 31 and 29 percent above  pre-pandemic totals. 

That’s followed by Aruba, The Bahamas, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Puerto Rico and St Maarten to round out the region. 

Diving into the numbers, several destinations are seeing growth in other areas: the US Virgin Islands, Martinique and Jamaica, for example, have seen the biggest growth in longer stays over 14 nights, with the USVI leading growth in that area at 25 percent. 

lopesan punta cana
The Lopesan Costa Bavaro resort in Punta Cana.

Group travel is also making a comeback, up 39 percent compared to 2019, according to the report. 

“Group travel is rebounding the strongest in the Dominican Republic +100%, Sint Maarten +41%, and Aruba 39%. This is being driven by travellers from the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom,” said Juan A. Gomez, Head of Market Intelligence at ForwardKeys.

The US and Canada unsurprisingly dominate air bookings to the Caribbean; Canada is showing the most growth for premium-cabin travelers. 

“Looking at the destinations visited by affluent travelers originating in Canada, we can see that they are mostly travelling to the Dominican Republic (+199%), Cuba (+114%) and Jamaica (+73%). And not only are more high-end travellers arriving from Canada, but they are also embarking on more stays of 14 nights or more (+75%) when travelling to the Caribbean, which opens the door to multi-destination trips,” Gomez said. 

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