by Jim Byers
Last updated: 6:15 PM ET, Thu August 22, 2019
The Caribbean has rebounded nicely from the 2017 storms that battered the region, says the chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
Speaking at the annual CTO day in Toronto, group chair Dominic Fedee said 1.4 million Canadians visited the Caribbean in the first quarter of this year. Overall rivals rose 12% to 9.1 million, he said.
That 12% figure for the Caribbean compares to 4.4% for tourism visits around the world, showing just how strong the Caribbean rebound has been.
Still, Fedee told a room full of travel journalists that Caribbean countries need to row together to improve their tourism offerings, and their national economies.
"We need better stats and information," he said. "We want to be the hub of tourism research in the Latin America and Caribbean region."
Representatives from more than a dozen great Caribbean destinations were on hand to chat with travel media at Thursday's session. Here's a look at what's news in several of those countries.
The Abidah by Accra opened in June of this year. It's is an all-inclusive, adults only boutique hotel that's stationed on the South Coast near breathtaking Enterprise Beach, one of the finest on the island. The Sands Barbados is slated to open this summer on a stunning white sandy beach on the South Coast of Barbados. This new, contemporary-styled vibrant all-inclusive hotel is located on the property, formerly known as Sandy Beach Hotel. It is ideal for families, groups and couples seeking a trendy all-inclusive beach holiday combined with personal and friendly service.
A July survey showed international arrivals to The Bahamas increased 13.9% in June with arrivals up 9.4% in the first half of 2019. The forward booking situation for July to September remains positive, with bookings 9.8% ahead for international arrivals. The truly remarkable Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant has a Great Escape sale on with savings up to 30%. Rates start at $269.50 per room USD, based on double occupancy.
Jamaica was voted into the top 15 destinations of the world in the 2019 Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice Awards. Negril's Seven Mile Beach was ranked fifth for Best Beach in the Caribbean and 10th in the world.
Earlier this year, Jamaica captured four gold awards at the TravelPulse Travvy Awards in New York City, winning for Best Tourism Board, Best Culinary Destination, Best Wedding Destination and Best Honeymoon Destination.
With Irma now a couple seasons behind us, Anguilla is once again enjoying significant popularity with tourists. Arrivals for the period of Jan-May reached 48,091, representing a 154.8% increase in traffic compared to the same period in 2018. Whether you chalk it up to chilly Canadian weather or the mass-market appeal of Anguilla's collection of Charming Escapes accommodations, Anguilla has been hot this year. For the third year in a row, Anguilla has been ranked the #1 Caribbean island by Travel + Leisure. On top of that, Anguilla has rolled out a beautiful new website (https://ivisitanguilla.com/) and a new brand "Beyond Extraordinary."
TURKS AND CAICOS
New developments on the way include an Andaz Turks and Caicos at Grace Bay, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Rock House by Grace Bay Resorts, The Bight Hotel, The Turks Cay Resort and Marina,,and more. Kokomo Botanical Resort is set to become the newest all-inclusive resort in Turks and Caicos, a move slated for Nov. 29, 2019. The property is owned by a Canadian. Flights are operated year-round by both Air Canada and WestJet.
The new Cabrits Resort and Spa Kempinski Dominica is slated to open Oct. 14 in the northwest corner of this beautiful island. The luxurious Jungle Bay Resort and Spa opened on the island last month. A new Marriott Autograph Collection hotel could open later this year, giving Dominica three spiffy new properties. Created to promote the rich cultural offerings of Dominica while providing a world-class platform for Creole music, the World Creole Music Festival has become a renowned staple on the regional music gala calendar. The star-studded lineup of performers thrills both seasoned festival goers and novices alike, giving worldwide exposure to fusion musical forms such as Cadence-lypso, Kompa, Zouk, Soukous, Bouyon and Zydeco. This year's festival will be held Oct. 25 to 27. The Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica will provide a luxurious basecamp for all of the festival's offerings. In addition to being among the first to experience this highly anticipated resort destination, guests will be able to select from two festival-inclusive VIP packages, including tickets to exclusive events and access to dedicated lounges.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
A new property on beautiful Bequia called The Liming opened late last year. Bequia is hosting a Caribbean Sustainable Travel Conference next week. It's an island that's reached via a short ferry ride from St. Vincent. Air Canada now flies year-round from Toronto to St. Vincent, with Thursday flights every day and then also Sunday flights in high season. Visitor arrivals to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the first five months of 2019 have increased by 7.1%. Provisional figures for the period January to May show that 232, 916 visitors came to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the year thus far, compared with 217,453 in 2018. Arrivals by air also increased by 7.1% with a total of 36,757 in 2019 compared with 34,335 in 2018 or a difference of 2,486 stay-over visitors. The Canadian market registered the greatest increase for stay-over arrivals with an increase of 16.9%.
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
New projects include the Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa, which sits "on a stunning private beach next to breathtaking clear waters" on Deep Bay. "This new generation, all-inclusive hotel offers discerning travelers a family-friendly vacation experience where guests of all ages are captivated from morning to night. With Royalton Antigua so close to the airport, you can be lounging by one of our pools within 30 minutes" of your arrival. Hammock Cove Resort & Spa is an adults-only, all-inclusive property from Elite Island Resorts. Located a few hundred meters from Devil's Bridge National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and overlooking the stunning turquoise waters of a protected bay, Hammock Cove Resort & Spa, Antigua will provide a truly upscale and customizable holiday for discerning adult travelers (18 years and older). The Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach House has re-opened following damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017. They now have a total of eight rooms, and a new restaurant, the Jelly Tree Bar and Grill. There will be another addition in 2019, a new spa.
This Caribbean island with a French flair saw a 42% increase in Canadian visitors between 2017 and 2018. Air Canada operates up to three non-stop flights per week from Montreal throughout the year. Air Transat operates twice a week in season (November to March), also from Montreal. Tourism officials told TravelPulse Canada they're talking with Air Canada about getting direct flights from Toronto.
This Central American country has a new Four Seasons coming in the next couple years on Caye Chapel. On Blackadore Caye, Leonardo DiCaprio has received government approval to build an eco-resort. Blackadore Caye is a small island about eight kilometers from Ambergris Caye.
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