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Between January and June this year, there were 17.1 million tourist trips to the Caribbean, 1.5 million more than the corresponding period in 2018. The foundation of this performance was a strong United States market, which grew by 20.2%, totalling a first half record of 8.9 million overnight international tourists. During the same period, some 2.1 million Canadian tourists stayed in the region, a 2.4% rise when compared to the same period last year.
However, the European market was flat, registering a marginal 0.4% increase to 2.9 million trips, with the UK market down by 1.7%, mainly due to significant declines in Cuba, which fell by 22%, and the Dominican Republic, down by 15.3%.
The strong results recorded in the first half reflect the resilience of individual destinations and demonstrate their ability to skillfully navigate global political and economic concerns, including Brexit and the ongoing trade wars which threaten the stability of the global economy.
Several factors supported the gains made so far including increased air capacity between the region and major sources, expansions in the accommodation sector and the positive positioning of the destinations’ brands in the various source markets. Resumption of flights to places damaged by recent hurricanes also probably played a role.
As it relates to cruise, the demand for the Caribbean was so strong in the first six months of 2019, that there was a record 16.7 million cruise visits, 1.3 million more than in the same period of 2018. The present rate of growth, estimated to be 8.1%, eclipses that for similar periods in the last four years.
Looking forward to the remainder of this year, based on current trends, and considering tglobal issues including Brexit and trade wars, the CTO forecast an increase of between five and seven per cent in stayover arrivals and 4 to 5% rise in cruise passenger visits.
Forward bookings for the important winter season, 1st November to 31st January are currently 1.6% ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year. Currently, bookings from the USA, the most important source market are 3.0% behind but bookings from all the other major source markets are ahead, France 9.8%, the UK 0.9%, Canada 8.2%, Argentina 8.1% and the rest of the world collectively 3.2%.