Caribbean THE place to visit

VisitorsNEW YORK CITY – Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean are expected to surpass the 30 million mark for the first time ever this year, following a record 28.7 million arrivals in 2015.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Richard Sealy announced that the industry got off to a fast start in 2016, registering a 7.3% rise in the first quarter over the corresponding period last year.

During this period, the Caribbean region welcomed approximately 8.5 million international visitors, 580,000 higher than the first quarter of 2015.

“This performance was buttressed by lower oil prices and the strong U.S. dollar which increased the appeal of the region to potential visitors. The many air service agreements ensured that the region had adequate seats to facilitate the flow of travellers to and within the region,” the CTO chairman explained.

Nineteen destinations showed improvements upon their 2015 performance, with eight registering double digit growth of between 10.5% and 26.8%.

The growth was led by intra-regional trips which rose by 12.9%, followed by the European market which registered growth of 11%.

The announcements came during Caribbean Week New York which included Rum and Rhythm, a benefit for the CTO Foundation, the regional tourism development agency’s scholarship program which assists Caribbean nationals pursuing further studies in tourism and hospitality.

The Empire State Building was lit Caribbean colours in observance of Caribbean Week New York, which celebrates the sights, sounds, colours, culture and unique holiday experiences of the Caribbean.