FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique — The number of travelers visiting the Caribbean from January through July was flat from a year earlier at 15.6 million, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Figures were released at CTO's State of the Industry Conference held here this week.
"The U.S. market had a marginal growth of 0.8%, which totaled 7.8 million visitors and represented a market share of 50.4%, up from 49.6% in 2012," said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairwoman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Although the gain is not significant, "we are looking toward a strong 2014, based on what we're seeing now with advance bookings," the she said.
Regional airlift remains a concern. When Nicholson-Doty assumed the chairmanship a year ago, she formed an aviation task force made up of representatives of airlines, governments, airports and regulatory agencies to begin a dialogue and lay the groundwork "for the change that is needed to move forward and resolve the aviation issue."
While there are no answers to date, "people are talking to one another, the dialogue has started and that in itself is progress," she said.
CTO's task force will meet in November with members of IATA and the Latin American & Caribbean Air Transport Association "to learn from them how they resolve their aviation issues and how we can generate more traffic into the Caribbean.”
CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said discussions were moving in a “positive” direction regarding the removal of some of the hindrances to air travel, including customs procedures and visa regulations.
"Progress is incremental, but it is happening," Riley said.
Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.