Time to visit The Islands

Vacation 2s“Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I want to take ya,
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama,
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go, Jamaica”
Like The Beach Boys who in their song Kokomo want to take you to The Islands, Caribbean tourism officials are also trying to encourage travel agents and agencies in Canada to get more Canadians to visit the region.
Two cities outside the GTA hosted this week’s meetings which formed part of Caribbean Week Canada activities, sponsored by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic continue to attract more tourists compared to the other tourism member states according to Hugh Riley, CTO secretary general. There were some 2.1 million trips last year to the region by Canadians.
Canadians, mainly from Ontario and Quebec, continue to be big supporters to the Caribbean. This is despite the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar compared to the U.S. dollar. However, Americans have been travelling in larger numbers to The Islands, said Riley.
American tourist visits to the Caribbean constitute the largest market at some 7.3 million.
The secretary general added that Curacao, Suriname and Barbados have seen an increase in the number of visitors to those countries.
Tourism plays a large role in many of the national economies in the Caribbean, including individual travel and package deals to hotels and resorts. Draws like pristine beaches and luxury accommodations abound, alongside more modest vacation properties. Eco travel is also popular in some countries.
Cruises to the region continue to be high according to Riley and up to June this year, there have been 13.7 million visitors, an increase of 2.9% over the past year.
At a Diaspora forum last Monday, Riley continued to urge members of the Diaspora to encourage group travel to the Caribbean by people within their professional circles, churches and communities.
He called the Caribbean a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons as well as for educational travel such as student exchanges, summer students, personal and family vacations and niche travel which includes tours to heritage sites, adding that there are 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites with 17 cultural sites and seven national sites.