ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – A senior official of the Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI) said over two million Canadians have visited the Caribbean for the first six months of this year, representing a 5.2 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year.
Jennifer Hendry, senior research associate with the CTRI, was addressing delegates at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO)-sponsored State of the Tourism Industry Conference 2017 held here recently.
She said that over the past six seasons, winter season arrivals (November to April) from Canada grew at an average rate of 1.8 per cent.
“At the same time, summer season arrivals grew at an average rate of five per cent. This shift does present an opportunity to further increase the region’s market share during those off-season months.”
She noted, however, that the overall increase is not reflective of individual country performances as some countries experienced a decline.
“A few countries are still experiencing ongoing declines in visitation but most destinations have seen increased arrivals so far this year,” she said, adding that the increase in some Caribbean countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic is driven by price.
“Seventy-two per cent of those arrivals this year are to the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Already this year, visits to the Dominican Republic have grown by 8.2 per cent and Cuba is up about two per cent,” Hendry said.
In addition to price, overall travel to the region is particularly affected by Canadian personal economics, the US dollar exchange rate and the weather, she noted.
“Eighty-four per cent of those who travelled to the Caribbean just this past summer live in Ontario and Quebec and these two provinces had a very unseasonably cool and wet summer. So, they seemed to want to flock out of the country in order to actually experience summer in July when we should have had our summer season.”
“When asked to rate their destination on a variety of factors that we presented, favourable weather received the highest rating from these travellers,” Hendry said.
She told the conference that the Caribbean should develop multi-generational travel packages and promote the need for security and access to other non-beach activities, in order to attract the older travellers.
Hendry said this is of particular importance since for the first time in the history of Canada, the older travelling population is larger than the 14 and under age group. Additionally, this group is more active than their predecessors.