Caribbean visitor count climbed more than 5% in 2012, says CTO

By Gay Nagle Myers
The Caribbean welcomed close to 25 million visitors in 2012, up 5.4% over 2011, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

The forecast for 2013 calls for another increase of 4% to 5%, "barring any international or regional unforeseen economic or social trauma," according to Beverly Nicholson-Doty, CTO chairwoman.

Arrivals from the U.S. were up 4.1% last year, reaching pre-recession levels five years earlier, Nicholson-Doty said during a state-of-the-industry report on 2012 performance.

Canada outpaced the U.S., posting a 5.9% jump in arrivals.

The number of U.K. visitors dropped 10% to 1 million, due to a weak economy and high airfares "precipitated by substantial increases in Air Passenger Duty in the last two years," according to Nicholson-Doty.

Cruise tourism in the Caribbean region was flat in 2012, as it has been for the past three years, she said.

"Intra-regional shifting of cruise schedules resulted in fairly significant increases in the northern Caribbean, offset by reductions in the south," Nicholson-Doty said.

Visitor tallies in the Dutch Caribbean countries recovered "moderately well" in 2012, showing a 5.6% jump above the wider Caribbean, thanks in part to a strong showing from the South American market.

Arrival numbers in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean increased 6% in 2012, with Mexico's Caribbean region as the main contributor to the strong performance.

Visitor spending crept up by 3.6%, totalling $27.5 billion for the region.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.
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