The number of tourists visiting the Caribbean increased by 5.4 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011, with almost 25 million visitors over the course of the year, according to figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
The region is enjoying a real renaissance, with further increases of between four and five per cent predicted for 2013. The Dutch Caribbean destinations, including Aruba and Curaçao led the charge in 2012, with the number of visitors flying to the Caribbean increasing 5.6 per cent above the rest of the region, as tourists look beyond the traditional island destinations in the search for good value. The Spanish-speaking Caribbean also enjoyed a strong year, with a six per cent increase in tourism largely led by Mexico's Caribbean region. Visitor spending in the region also saw an upturn during 2012, with a 3.6 per cent increase on the previous year, meaning a total of approximately £17 billion was spent by tourists over the year. This modest increase is seen as a sign that the Caribbean tourism industry is starting to recover from the recession-led struggles of recent years. However, numbers of visitors to the Caribbean from the UK nosedived by 10 per cent during 2012, and enticing UK tourists back to the region provides the CTO with one of its biggest challenges. The Saint Lucia Tourist Board recently did its bit to boost the profile of the Caribbean to British tourists by partnering with British Airways to give away 48 pairs of flight tickets to the island to unsuspecting commuters passing through London's Victoria Station. Image sources: 123