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REGION UPDATE T


he Caribbean is set for another record year for international arrivals after enjoying a 7% rise in visitors – the


highest increase of any region in the world – during the first six months of 2015. (1) This comes after the region attracted a


record-setting 26.3 million tourists in 2014, which was on the back of the previous record of 25 million in 2013 (2)


. Last year’s visitors


contributed a total of $29.2 billion to Caribbean economies, about a third of the region’s GDP (3)


the $30 billion barrier by the end of 2017. But the region is set to experience its


biggest shake-up in decades with US tourists now being allowed to visit Cuba – a move that is predicted to increase US arrivals to the island from a current 700,000 to up to 10 million per year. (4) The Caribbean is also facing more


competition due to the weakening of the euro against the US dollar, which may encourage more Americans to visit Europe, as well as economic difficulties in emerging markets such as Brazil and Argentina.


AIR PASSENGER DUTY The UK market should continue to benefit from changes in the British government’s Air Passenger Duty on flights. The four-band system of APD was


scrapped in April 2015, reducing the tax for economy flights from £170 to £142 per person to the Caribbean. The cost for families flying to the region


from the UK has further been reduced by abolishing APD for under-12s flying in economy from May 2015. (7)


Kuoni UK’s


Caribbean product manager Sarah Jackson says: “We have seen an increase in bookings to the Caribbean, which is up year on year. We don’t solely put this down to APD, but the changes will help to make a difference.”


AVIATION Although the Caribbean benefits from strong air links from Europe, particularly with UK carriers such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, air travel within the region “continues to be a major challenge” (8)


capacity did grow by 4.6% in 2014 (9)


although regional .


Caribbean Airlines will end its long-haul


service between Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Gatwick in early 2016 to concentrate on more regional routes within the Caribbean and to the US and Latin America. (10) Competitor InselAir is adding new routes from its bases at Curacao and Aruba, and


6 HOTEL NEWS


• 12 new properties in the last year, adding around 2,900 rooms to the region’s overall total of 231,000. (5)


• Around 50 hotel developments in the “pipeline”, including 14 properties currently in construction, which will add 10,000 new rooms in the region by 2017. (6)


• According to STR Global, comparing Jan-June 2014 with Jan-June 2015, average hotel occupancy has increased from 71.4% to 73.8%, while average daily rate has increased from $243.01 per room to $232.86.


Sources


1 UNWTO mkt.unwto.org/barometer 2-3 Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) www.onecaribbean.org/cto-secretary-general-hugh-riley-on-world-tourism- day-2015/


4 IMF https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2008/wp08162.pdf 5-6 STR Global https://www.strglobal.com/ 7 Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rates-and-allowances-excise-duty- air-passenger-duty


8 CTO http://www.onecaribbean.org/cto-secretary-general-hugh-riley-on-world-tourism-day-2015/ 9 Routes/OAG Aviation http://www.routesonline.com/news/29/breaking-news/246845/data-what-are-the-fastest- growing-airlines-in-the-caribbean


10 Caribbean Airlines http://www.caribbean-airlines.com/ 11 InselAir https://www.fly-inselair.com/en/ 12 Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association http://www.caribbeanhotelassociation.com/


2015 OPENINGS INCLUDE: • Sandals Barbados • Marriott Port-au-Prince, Haiti • Moon Palace Jamaica Grande • Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino • Courtyard Kingston, Jamaica


2016 OPENINGS INCLUDE: • Park Hyatt St. Kitts • InterContinental Real Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic


• Kimpton Hotel, Grand Cayman • Six Senses Freedom Bay, Saint Lucia


. The goal is to break through “


Cuba should not be a point of fear for the region, rather it should be a rallying point for opportunity. Failure to act will result in a diversion of


Americans and travellers curious to experience Cuba before it changes, many who would otherwise go elsewhere in the Caribbean.”


EMIL LEE, PRESIDENT, CARIBBEAN HOTEL & TOURISM ASSOCIATION


CARIBBEAN HIGH FLIERS Islands with biggest year-on-year percentage increases in visitor numbers (January-July 2015): • Cuba: +16.9% (2.2 million visitors) • Aruba: +15.8% (680,000) • Trinidad & Tobago: +8.5% (265,000) • Dominican Republic +7.6% (3.4 million) • US Virgin Islands: +6.8% (514,000) Source: Caribbean Tourism Organization


Norwegian is to fly from London Gatwick to Puerto Rico from this month. Seaborne Airlines is to add flights between Puerto Rico and the new VC Bird International airport in Antigua, which is also to gain new Milan flights with Alitalia. (11) The Antigua project is part of a series of


improvements to the Caribbean’s airport infrastructure with more than $1.7 billion spent across eight destinations in the last few years. (12)





HUGH RILEY, SECRETARY GENERAL, CTO


The Caribbean faces competition from domestic tourism marketing in the North America; challenging economic conditions in South and Latin America;


and the strengthening of the US dollar against the euro, making it cheaper for Americans to visit Europe. At the same time, intra-regional airlift continues to be a major challenge. The quality of life enjoyed by many Caribbean territories – the sophisticated road networks, world-class health care, solid foreign reserves and complex educational systems – is largely due to the success of the tourism industry and we look forward to facilitating the industry’s growth in the years to come.”


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