2008 Caribbean tourism up, down

The year 2008 was a rollercoaster ride for the Caribbean region’s tourism arrival figures.

According to statistics posted on the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s website, some destinations, such as Cuba, saw their tourist stay-over arrivals spike as much as 9 per cent on the previous year, while others, like Bermuda and Martinique, saw them fall by more than 4 per cent.

Passenger cruise arrivals for 2008 also saw jumps, but mostly for those destinations with relatively small numbers of cruise visitors, such as Bonaire, which had an 80 per cent increase to 175,000 passengers. Drops in cruise arrivals were as much as 19 per cent in Bermuda, which slipped to 286,000 passengers.

The Cayman Islands finished the 2008 year with air arrivals up 3.9 per cent on the previous year to just over 300,000 and cruise arrivals down 9.5 per cent to 1.55 million.

Out of 16 destinations that have their full tourist air arrivals and cruise arrivals for 2008 posted on CTO’s website, Cayman tied third with Jamaica for its growth for stay-over tourism, behind Cuba and Cancun, Mexico.

But Cayman had the third biggest decline for cruise tourism, after Bermuda and Antigua & Barbuda.

Nine out of the 16 destinations saw a decline in their tourist stay-over arrival figures over the previous year. These included Bermuda, which saw a drop of 4.6 per cent to just over 290,000 visitors; Martinique, where the numbers also fell by 4.6 per cent to just under 480,000 visitors; and the British Virgin Islands, which saw its arrivals go down by 3.4 per cent last year, to 345,934.

Seven destinations saw growth, including the Cayman Islands.

Cuba had a 9 per cent increase, bringing its stop-over figure to 2.3 million visitors. The next highest increase came in Cancun, Mexico, which saw a 7.1 per cent increase, bringing its stay-over figure to 2.1 million.

Jamaica’s 3.9 per cent growth saw its stay-over tourist figure reach 1.7 million.

From the 16 destinations with full figures posted for cruise tourism, only five reported growth in 2008. After Bonaire, the second most growth was in Martinique, which saw a 21.5 per cent increase to 87,000 passengers.

Cruise tourists in Aruba increased by 15.4 per cent to 556,000.

Destinations other than Bermuda that saw significant declines in cruise tourism included Antigua and Barbuda, which saw its cruise tourism drop 13.7 per cent down just under 581,000 passengers; the US Virgin Islands, which had a drop of 8.4 per cent to 1.75 million passengers; and Jamaica, which had a drop of 7.7 per cent as cruise passengers fell to just over one million.

Destinations in which the full year’s statistics were not available, have not been included.