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Caribbean sees an uptick in tourism

By Jessica Montevago

Travel to the Caribbean is trending upward, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) reported during its press conference last week in New York.

In the first quarter of 2017, destinations around the region received 8.7 million international tourist arrivals, up by 150,000 from the same period of 2016, a 1.8% increase. And, after a weak 2016, the Canadian market has rebounded this year to the highest growth rate of 4.8% in the first quarter.

“This is 150 thousand more than in the same period of 2016, a 1.8 percent increase,” said the Honorable Dionisio D’Aguilar, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, at his first news conference for the newly appointed chairman. D’Aguilar also discussed a new five-year strategic plan for the CTO in a “process that has already begun,” he said.

Cruise arrivals are increasing as well, with the region’s ports welcoming about 10 million cruise passengers. In the first three months of 2017, cruise passenger arrivals increased by an estimated 4.5%, compared to the same period of last year.

The news was revealed as part of Caribbean Week, which is designed to showcase what’s new in the tourism sector, as well as celebrate the region’s rich heritage and culture.

Other highlights of the week include a collaboration with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to create a public-private tourism development and marketing initiative and a five-year strategic plan.

Travel Impressions’ president Scott Wiseman delivered the keynote address, saying “you can look at any tourism barometer and see that travel to the Caribbean is trending upwards.”

“You won’t find a better vehicle for shifting market share than the travel agent distribution channel,” he said.

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