Caribbean tourism held its own in 2005,
according to Arley Sobers, director of research and information
management for the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
An initial forecast
for this year, based on arrivals to date, is that arrivals during
the current winter season will surpass last winters total, due in
part to increased airlift to the region.
The CTO predicted
continued moderate growth this year, in the 2.5% to 3.5% range,
Tourist arrivals in
2005 to 31 CTO member countries increased by 3.6% to 22.5 million
visitors, down from the 6.9% increase in 2004 and the 7.1% increase
with world tourism figures for the three-year period encompassing
2003, 2004 and 2005, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean grew by 19%,
topping a 16% increase worldwide.
The number of U.S.
arrivals to the Caribbean grew 2% last year, while the number of
Canadian arrivals rose 6% and the number of European visitors
figures from each country are still being tallied, the biggest
visitor increases seen to date were in the Dominican Republic (up
7.2%, to 3.7 million tourists) and Cuba (up 13%, to 2.3
On the cruise side,
traffic dropped 2% in 2005, compared with a 12.2% increase in 2004
and a 12.7% increase in 2003.
attributed the drop last year to the slow growth of capacity in
2005 (2.2% versus the average of 8.1% over the previous 10 years)
and the redeployment of ships to destinations outside the
With the post-9/11
tendency to base more capacity in Florida and the growing focus on
shorter cruises, the more southerly cruise destinations in the
region have reported the sharpest decreases, according to
The average hotel
occupancy in the Caribbean for 2005 stood at 68.6%, compared with
68.4% for 2004, according to Smith Travel Research, a company that
analyzes international hotel performance.
The average revenue
per available hotel room in 2005 increased 8%, to
estimates translate to a gross expenditure by visitors to the
Caribbean last year of $23 billion, Sobers said.