Castries, St. Lucia. (photo via NAPA74/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
As we approach the end of 2022, the global travel industry’s recovery is no longer in doubt, but some areas are well ahead of others when it comes to regaining their pre-pandemic tourist numbers.
One of the regions continuing to rebound the most rapidly is the Caribbean, according to a new report from travel intelligence company ForwardKeys. Its latest travel data demonstrates how the Caribbean’s ample air connectivity and signature hospitality are attracting more international travelers than anywhere else in the world right now.
The Caribbean’s Enduring Popularity
Even during the pandemic’s worst period, throughout 2020 and 2021, ForwardKeys data highlighted the resilience of places like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as tourism recovery success stories, but the number of arrivals across the entire Caribbean has increased dramatically in 2022.
“The Caribbean example is not just about showing a great example of a region recovering, but instead about a region that is growing – despite all the macroeconomic factors taking place now, such as the slowdown of the world economy, rising costs of petrol and the effects of the war in Ukraine,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.
In 2022’s fourth quarter, overseas tourist arrivals are continuing to climb across many Caribbean nations. Presently at the forefront in terms of international arrivals is the Dominican Republic, which is up 40 percent over 2019 levels, followed by the U.S. Virgin Islands (up 33 percent), Bonaire (up 30 percent) and Martinique ( up 26 percent).
“Air connectivity appears to be the key to achieving growth,” Ponti explained. “If we examine our Seat Capacity Data, it shows destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe are performing better thanks to an increase in direct flights since 2019.”
Beautiful Caribbean beach on Saona Island, Dominican Republic. (photo via czekma13 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Islands Attracting Different Traveler Types
Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Bonaire are doing especially well this year, experiencing an influx of affluent international travelers, who originate in various source markets—North America, Europe and Latin America—the report notes.
“Premium cabin travel to the Caribbean in Q3 is up 27% versus the pre-pandemic. To Curacao and Bonaire, we can see a triple-digit increase versus 2019 levels: +120% and +110%…this is huge and especially good news, not only for the airlines and hotels but for the goods and services sector,” said Ponti.
ForwardKeys’ Air Ticketing Data also revealed that wealthy travelers are increasingly coming to the Caribbean from, not only North America but also more recently South America. In 2022’s fourth quarter, the region has proven extremely popular among Colombians. Arrival numbers are up 54 percent over the same period in 2019, while Curacao in particular has seen an incredible 304 percent increase in visitors from Argentina.
The Colorful waterfront and harbor of Bonaire. (photo via dbvirago / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Finally, the data revealed that some Caribbean destinations are even managing to attract non-leisure travelers, despite the fact that business travel segment experiencing a slow return worldwide. The entire region is seeing growth from that market, but especially Saint Lucia, which has seen 22 percent more business travelers in quarter four this year than in 2019.
“Our latest data findings are exciting, as it shows not only countries are back to growing their arrival figures in the Caribbean, but also not overlook other key regions for new business opportunities. Yes, I am pointing at South America,” concluded Ponti.
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