Caribbean Travel Industry

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Caribbean Travel Industry Overview

Tourism is one of the Caribbean economy's most important sectors, responsible for 15.2% of the Gross Domestic Product, with the Dominican Republic being its most popular destination. After the loss of tourism with the 2017 hurricane season, the Caribbean had 29.9 million tourist visits in 2018, with a 9.8% increase at the end of the year.



  • The Caribbean tourism sector was experiencing a strong year before the hurricane season of 2017, with a growth in demand of more than 4%.
  • Irma, the strongest hurricane ever observed in the open Atlantic Ocean, directly hit the Caribbean islands of Barbuda, St Maarten, St Barthélemy, Anguilla, the US, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and Cuba.
  • Because of the disaster, in September 2017, tourism started to experience losses, "with demand declining by 4% or more" compared to the previous year.
  • According to an analysis, this hurricane season resulted in an approximate loss of 826,100 international visitors, which is equivalent to $741 million in visitor spending, $292.5 million in GDP, and 11,005 supported jobs.
  • In terms of tourism and spending, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic were the most affected.
  • The hurricane season damaged many hotels, reducing the number of hotel rooms available on the affected islands, including Anguilla, the British and US Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Maarten/St. Martin and Barbuda, and Puerto Rico.


  • The Caribbean had 29.9 million tourist visits in 2018, the second-highest on record, after the 30.6 million visitors recorded in 2017.
  • With registered declines during the first eight months of 2018, the region recorded a 3% rise in September, an 11.8% growth in October, and by the end of the year, tourist arrivals were up 9.8%.
  • Despite this data, 2018 arrivals numbers showed a 2.3% fall, "the first decline in annual tourist arrivals in nine years."
  • The market share of global visits in the same year shrank by 0.2%, to 2.1% of the market.
  • Total visitor spending went down by 1% to $38.3 billion.
  • Tourist arrivals in countries such as Guyana, Belize, the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, and Grenada reported double-digit increases; while the hurricane-impacted countries recorded double-digit declines.
  • In the first three months of 2019, there were 9.1 million international tourist arrivals to the region, with an increase of almost 970,000 visitors.


  • Canada outperformed the other markets in 2018 with 3.9 million visits to the Caribbean.
  • "Intra-regional travel had its best performance ever," with 2 million visits, followed by South America, with 1.9 million visits.
  • Arrivals from Europe improved by 1.3%, and UK arrivals maintained an estimated 1.3 million.
  • The 13.9 million American tourist visits that year represented a 6.3% fall, due to declines in visitors to popular destinations impacted by the hurricanes, such as Puerto Rico and St. Maarten.
  • The US market saw a fourth-quarter growth of 28% (September to December period).


  • The cruise travel sector had "its best performance ever" in 2018, with an estimated 28.9 million passenger visits, representing a rise of 6.7%.
  • The cruise growth was seen as cruise ships returned to the ports and many hubs were rebuilt after the hurricane season.
  • Air capacity in 2018 decreased by 3.4%, while the number of flights declined by 4.3%. However, in the fourth quarter, the seating capacity had a 5.3% rise, while frequency grew by 5.2%.


  • According to Caribbean & Co., February is the most popular month of the year to visit the Caribbean.
  • According to a travel expert and USA Today, the best months to visit the Caribbean are January through April.
  • The high season in the Caribbean (full resorts and pricier flights) is the period from mid-December to mid-April.


  • The most popular destination in the Caribbean is the Dominican Republic, with 6.18 million visitors in 2017.
  • Cuba is the next most popular Caribbean country for traveling, with 3.9 million visitors in 2017.
  • These are followed by Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and The Bahamas.
  • Other popular destinations include Aruba, US Virgin Islands, Barbados, Martinique, and St. Maarten.
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Caribbean Travelers Audience Analysis

The audience for a Caribbean travel company spans all ethnic demographics but can be broken down into more specific generational groups. Baby boomers and millennials are the two most common generations looking to travel to the Caribbean, along with those that make less than $150,000 a year, those who actively use social media, and those looking for bucket list locations and celebratory trips.




  • Accessibility strongly impacts what locations tourist visit. Tourists from Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina typically travel by cruise ship, and they make up 75% of the Caribbean cruise industry.
  • The Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Jamaica, and Aruba saw the greatest incremental growth in US tourism in 2018.
  • Inclement weather or politics can affect international travel appeal. Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten experience a substantial decrease in travel due to the 2017 hurricane. Cuba experienced decreased tourism traffic due to policy changes.
  • Three factors that affect tourism performance in different Caribbean locations are weather, airlift, and perception of safety.
  • Social media plays a large part in tourism location as 84% of millennials post on social during vacation. However, it plays less of an important part for baby boomers as only 57% post on social media during vacations.
  • With 35% of all cruises going to a Caribbean trip, cruise itineraries play a large part in which islands tourist visit; cruise-goers tend to choose itineraries with more locations.
  • Cruise itineraries steer families toward specific islands as cruises are one of the leading family Caribbean vacation options.


  • Islands like the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, and Tobago are known for diving activities.
  • Martinique and Dominica are known for hiking.
  • Sailing and catamarans are popular in Antigua.
  • Mexico and Costa Maya are known for their Mayan Ruins.
  • The most popular excursions include general sightseeing tours, zip-lining, biking, ATV tours, horseback riding, walking tours, and water activities.
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Saint Lucia Competitive Landscape, Pt. 1

St. Lucia's key competitive advantage is its beauty and mystic sections, Barbados has diverse and active destinations with amazing attractions and sights. St. Kitts on the other hand, has a fascinating history and special treasures. All the requested details have been compiled in columns C-E, rows 2-8 in the attached spreadsheet.


  • St. Lucia is a 238 sq miles island with a population of 165, 595 people. The languages spoken are English and French Creole.
  • The island has iconic landmarks that include mountains such as Gros piton, jungles, historic sites, and beaches.
  • Beauty and mystic sections alike, Saint Lucia captivates anyone on its shoreline, with its relaxing waves, hot beaches, and hospitable individual. The island personifies adventure and inspiration as the only sovereign nation to be named for a female.


  • Barbados is a 21mile by 14mile Caribbean island. It has an approximate population of 285, 000 people. Its capital is Bridgetown.
  • Barbados is an English-speaking island with a broad dialect and is "the only coral island in the region with all white sand beaches.
  • The island has diverse and active destinations with amazing attractions and sights. This includes Harrison's cave, the Baobab Tree, historic Jacobean, mansions, Morgan Lewis Mill, the famous Jewish synagogue, Cannon Galore, and Grapefruit Tree (Citrus Paradise).


  • St. Kitts is 18 miles by 5 miles Caribbean island. It is "located at the top of the West Indies' string of jewels approximately 19 degrees north of the equator".
  • The island has white sandy beaches, quiet turquoise seas, rain forests, colorful villages, and fascinating history.
  • The island boasts of having rolling landscapes, shimmering aqua-blue waters, white sand beaches, rain forests, and offshore corals with various colored fish.
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Saint Lucia Competitive Landscape, Pt. 2

Key reasons why Aruba is preferred over its competitors are its climate (specifically the temperature), the Carubbian Festival, and its Natural Wonders. Meanwhile, Bermuda’s holds a competitive advantage over its competitors due to the presence of pink sands. Furthermore, visitors are encouraged to stroll past the old-time buildings in Historic St. George and also pushes guest to explore its naval history at the National Museum of Bermuda. Finally, the Bahamas’ competitive advantage includes features such as protected lands like the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve and Lucayan National Park, resorts such as Atlantis, Paradise Island, and other mega-resorts. All the requested details have been compiled in columns F-H, rows 2-8 in the attached spreadsheet.


  • Aruba boasts resorts, shopping, and an active nightlife. To the north by winds sculpted rugged coastlines, limestone, and waves and at the center by the Arikok National Part that protects a sprawling landscape of desert sand, towering cacti, and natural wonders.
  • Key reasons why Aruba is preferred over its competitors are its climate (specifically the temperature), the Carubbian Festival, and its natural wonders.
  • Aruba is known to have the highest number of sunny days out of all the Caribbean islands what with its temperature of 27 degrees Celsius on an average.
  • The Carubbian Festival which takes place every Thursday evening is an over-the-top, colorful event that brings everyone together and consolidates them for one giant celebration.
  • In Bermuda, the Royal Naval Dockyard is located in the West End region featuring shops, national museum, a craft market, restaurants, attractions, the Island’s biggest cruise ship terminal and the South shore beaches among others.
  • Top activities when visiting Bermuda include spa treatments and afternoon tee times, on the water, sports, recreation, spa, arts, culture, entertainment, nature & natural wonders, shopping, dining and nightlife.
  • Bermuda’s competitive advantage over its competitors is the presence of pink sands located at Elbow Beach and Horseshoe Bay Beach that encourages strolls past the old-time buildings in Historic St. George and also pushes guest to delve into naval history at the National Museum of Bermuda.
  • Top tourist attractions in Bermuda include the town of St. George, the Bermuda Maritime Museum, and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo.
  • The second most-populated Bahamian Island is the Grand Bahama with a population of about 95,000 that is sparsely disbursed across 96 miles.
  • The Bahamas' competitive advantage includes features such as pristine protected areas like the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve (on Eleuthera) and Lucayan National Park (on Grand Bahama Island), resorts such as Atlantis, Paradise Island and other mega-resorts.
  • The Bahamas is a great place for history buffs, ruins and artifacts from the colonial era and indigenous peoples like the Lucayan and Arawak Indians which can be found on San Salvador, Cat Island, and other Bahamian islands. This makes it a great place for historians and other history lovers to visit.
  • Top activities for tourists in the Bahamas include going to the beach, boating, dining, diving, ecotourism, family, fishing, honeymoons, nightlife, pampering, private flying, romantic getaways, shopping, sightseeing, sports, water sports and so on.
  • Visitors of the Bahamas are typically vacationers, honeymooners, and friends visiting relatives.

From Part 04
  • "Home to some of the most pristine beaches in the world, fringed by calm turquoise waters, Aruba is a haven for beach lovers. With quieter retreats along the windward coast for those who enjoy a bit of peace and quiet to those who love taking part in adrenaline-pumping water sports along the west coast, there’s a beach for everyone. With a beach to suit any occasion, why wouldn’t this make you smile? "
  • "Most importantly, Aruba has Eagle Beach, recently named one of the top ten beaches in the world. Not just an ideal picnic spot for topping up your tan, it’s also a nesting place for up to four types of turtle - it’s clearly not just visitors and locals who enjoy a breath-taking view! "