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Travel to Caribbean continues to grow despite powerful storms

Friday, November 08, 2019

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LONDON, England (CMC) — A study undertaken by Forward- Keys, a travel analytics firm, has revealed that despite the recent ravages of Hurricane Dorian and other huge storms in the Caribbean, tourism will continue to grow.

The results of the study were presented at a Caribbean Tourism Organizationorganised news conference at World Travel Market.

The study revealed that forward bookings for the winter season – November 1 to January 31, are currently 1.6 per cent ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year.

Currently, bookings from the United States, the most important source market are 3.0 per cent behind but bookings from all the other major source markets, are ahead – France 9.8 per cent, the UK 0.9 per cent , Canada 8.2 per cent, Argentina 8.1 per cent and the rest of the world collectively 3.2 per cent. The current leader is the Netherlands, 42.1 per cent ahead. However, the outlook is not universally positive.

Forward bookings to the top destination in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, are currently 14.2 per cent behind and those to The Bahamas and Aruba are 6.4 per cent and 1.4 per cent behind, respectively.

Encouraging growth is seen from Puerto Rico, 28.0 per cent ahead, but according to ForwardKeys that is really a recovery story, as tourism to the island was hit hard by Hurricane Maria in December 2017.

This season's most devastating hurricane, Dorian, which came at the end of August and early September, ravaged the most northerly parts of The Bahamas but left other parts relatively undamaged.

“The result is that some parts of the country saw a drop in arrivals, where others experienced a significant increase. Travel to Freeport and Marsh Harbour in September fell dramatically, by 50.9 per cent and 67.9 per cent, respectively,” the report stated.

Hurricanes have been a major scourge, affecting travel to the Caribbean in recent years, with some islands left badly damaged. ForwardKeys research shows that recovering from the impact of a major hurricane can take years.

“So far, it has taken Puerto Rico 15 months to reach 70 per cent of pre-hurricane arrivals and it has taken St Maarten 20 months.

In the case of The Bahamas, ForwardKeys expects the recovery to take less time because the initial rebound in both post-hurricane arrivals has been stronger: just one month after the hurricane, The Bahamas has reached 80 per cent of pre-hurricane arrivals.

“What we have seen in recent years is that the Caribbean is an incredibly popular destination. When some parts of it have been hit with horrendous hurricanes and other issues, tourist did not give up on their desire for a holiday in paradise; they chose other parts of it to visit instead. We saw that syndrome earlier this year, when stories in the US media about tourists who had died in the Dominican Republic, caused bookings to collapse; however, other islands, most notably Jamaica, The Bahamas and Aruba saw a visitor surge,” said Olivier Ponti, the vice-president of insights at ForwardKeys.


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