For the Caribbean it was a year of severe hurricanes and huge damage, including to hotels, harbours and airports. And yet 2017 was also a year of records. For the first time 30.1 million visitors came and stayed on the islands spanning the Caribbean from Florida to Venezuela, 517,000 more than in 2016. This was reported by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) at ITB Berlin.
All the large islands, including Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Jamaica registered gains. For St. Lucia and Bermuda they were even in double digits. In 2017, tourism revenues in the Caribbean rose to 37 billion dollars, an increase of 2.7 per cent, despite the region not being cheap. According to the CTO, the average cost of a hotel room rose to 204,64 US dollars, an increase of 1.9 per cent. The organisation has forecast moderate growth in overnights for 2018, around two to three per cent.
“Fortunately, tourists have not abandoned the Caribbean. Visiting the hurricane-hit islands greatly helps the local residents. Most hotels and restaurants have been open again for some weeks”, said Karolin Troubetzkoy at ITB Berlin. She is president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and executive director of the luxury Anse Chastanet & Jade Mountain Resorts on St. Lucia, where she is also honorary consul to Germany. Well over 90 per cent of hotels had reopened, she added. According to Troubetzkoy, “the islanders were and are wiling to pull together, help each other out and keen to get on with rebuilding”, to which her hotel organisation also contributed.
Anyone travelling to Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Anguilla, the British and US Virgin Islands or Dominica can still witness substantial damage, fallen over palm trees for instance. Nevertheless, hotels, restaurants and bars are open for tourism again. The family and staff at the Tamarind Tree Hotel on Dominica also rolled up their sleeves. “Our situation stands for the suffering of many in the Caribbean”, says Annette Peyer Loerner, who is originally from Switzerland. She and her husband Stefan Loerner run the Tamarind Tree. The couple have been living on Dominica since 1997. “I am glad to be here again at ITB and have had lots of customers and enquiries at the show”, she says.
The small hotel was repaired and modernised during the autumn, during which she was able to rent out some rooms. “In the meantime we are fully open again. The garden is green and in bloom. The ocean view from the pool and restaurant is as beautiful and spectacular as ever”, says Peyer Loerner. The main trails and hiking paths on the green island, which is also home to parrots and hummingbirds, are open to tourists again.