Arrival figures show 2000 was very good for Caribbean

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NEW YORK -- Late winter in the Caribbean brings with it the announcement of tourist arrival figures for the previous year. Aruba, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands appear to be winners in the categories of increased visitor numbers in 2000 and percentage increases compared with 1999.

However, since countries employ different methods of compiling, tabulating and recording their annual visitor stream, the total count can (and often does) come up differently each time.

In February, the World Tourism Organization in Madrid issued a region-by-region breakdown of total worldwide tourism growth in 2000.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization began compiling a chart of tourist arrivals by main market at about the same time.

Here is what we do know:

  • World tourism grew by 7.4% in 2000, the highest growth rate in 10 years and almost double the increase of 1999, according to WTO.
  • The Caribbean recorded an overall growth rate of 7.1% in 2000 compared with 1999.
  • In WTO's list of the top 10 destinations in the Americas region (North, South and Central America and the Caribbean), the U.S. was No. 1 with more than 52 million visitors, followed by Canada with 20.4 million, Mexico with 20 million and Brazil with 5.1 million.
  • No. 5 and the first Caribbean destination to appear on WTO's chart is Puerto Rico. Figures based on partial-year reports indicate 3 million visitors, a 2.3% increase compared with 1999.
  • No. 7 is the Dominican Republic with 2.9 million visitors, a 12.4% jump from the previous year.
  • No. 10 is Cuba, which recorded 1.7 million visitors for an 8.9% jump from 1999. (This differs from figures given by a Cuban tourism official who cited 1.8 million visitors last year and a 12% increase.)
  • Although not all countries have reported their 2000 figures to CTO, certain patterns emerge from those that have.

  • The Bahamas' 23% visitor increase compared with 1999 translates to more than 4.9 million worldwide visitors in 2000.
  • Jamaica reported a 6% increase in tourist arrivals last year for a total of more than 1.3 million visitors. U.S. visitors to Jamaica grew by 8.3% to 942,561 in 2000.
  • Aruba's increase of 8.4% and the 12.4% jump in the U.S. Virgin Islands are just as impressive, although the bottom-line numbers are far smaller.
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