Dominican Republic, Aruba big winners in Caribbean in 2014

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Divi-divi tree in Aruba
A divi-divi tree in Aruba. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The Caribbean Tourism Organization said that the region welcomed 26.3 million visitors in 2014, a 5.2% increase over the 25 million that visited the Caribbean the year before.

Of the most visited Caribbean islands, the top performers were the Dominican Republic (5.1 million visitors, 9.6% increase), Aruba (1 million, 9.5%), Puerto Rico (1.4 million through October, 6.6%) and Cuba (3 million, 5.3%).

Bahamas visitation totaled 924,000 through July, a 3.5% increase, said the CTO. Jamaica had 2 million visitors, a 3.6% bump, and the U.S. Virgin Islands was up 3.9% through November, to 655,000.

"Our traditional markets performed well,” said Hugh Riley, CTO secretary general. “Canada, which was flat in 2013, rallied strongly. The U.S. maintained healthy growth, and Europe topped five million visitors for the first time since 2008," Riley said.

Of concern, however, is intra-regional market performance, especially among the eastern Caribbean countries, said CTO.

Smaller destinations reporting big visitor increases were Turks and Caicos (40.6%, to 368,000), Grenada (18.4%, to 134,000), Haiti (10.8%, to 465,000) and the Cayman Islands (10.8%, to 383,000).

Bermuda was down 5.2% with 212,000 visitors. Trinidad & Tobago was flat at 412,000.

Air capacity to the Caribbean and Latin America increased 6%, according to Winfield Griffith, CTO's director of research and IT. 

The cruise sector improved upon an increase in passengers of just 2% in 2013 to an 8% jump in 2014, to nearly 24 million.

Bahamas was the most visited cruise destination in the region, welcoming 3.8 million passengers, up 2.9% over 2013, followed by Cozumel (3.4 million, up 23.8%), the USVI (2 million, up 4.3%), the Cayman Islands (1.6 million, up 17%), St. Maarten (1.5 million, up 15.9%), Jamaica (1.4 million, up 12.5%) and Puerto Rico (1.1 million, up 13.6%).

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