Across the Caribbean, the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry has been very apparent. The impact was particularly evident during the period of April to about mid -June when there was literally no activity in some of our destinations.
This was characterized by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers, grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines. While we saw some fluctuations in the levels of visitors for the remaining months of the 2020, the influx of visitors has not reached levels even closely comparable to those being experienced prior to March 2020. In fact, some destinations remain closed to visitors, with limited airlift primarily for repatriation of locals and cargo. Cruise lines plying Caribbean routes remain non-operational due to a strict ban imposed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).
With government restrictions both in the Caribbean and globally reducing, and in many cases, preventing travel for large periods of time, the Caribbean had a significant drop in arrivals in 2020, although the region performed better than any other region in the world.
Data received from Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries reveal that tourist arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a declined of 65.5 percent when compared to the record 32.0 million tourist visits in 2019. Still, this was better than the world average of 73.9 percent decline during the same period.
This lower rate of decline in the region can be attributed to two key factors: a significant portion of the Caribbean’s winter season (January to mid-March 2020) saw average levels of tourist arrivals when compared to 2019, and the fact that the main (summer) season in other regions coincided with the period where there was normally very limited international travel.