The political upheaval in the U.S. and Europe last year didn’t deter travelers from visiting the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean. (Cuncon/Pixabay)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Caribbean tourism broke new ground in 2016, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever, and once again growing faster than the global average.

“Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 percent in 2016, better than the 3.9 percent overall internationally,” High Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, announced on Thursday, Feb. 9, in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016.

“Encouragingly, we welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015 to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of continuous growth for the seventh straight year,” he told a news conference held at CTO headquarters and streamed to a global audience.




Visitor expenditures also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 percent to reach $35.5 billion.

The United States remained the Caribbean’s primary market with an estimated 14.6 million stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 percent from 2015.

However, it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main source markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 percent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 percent).




“Despite terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum in the UK and bumpy economic outcomes across continental Europe, arrivals from that market climbed by 11.4 percent to reach 5.6 million,” Riley said. “The strong European performance was evident by the healthy increases of between six and 16.8 percent in each month, compared to the corresponding month in 2015.”

Intra-Caribbean travel also performed well, recording a 3.6 percent increase – the second straight year of growth – despite costly and fragmented air service.

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