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Caribbean Sees Increase in Tourists but Spending is Down

Analysts have revealed that more travellers are enjoying Caribbean holidays but they are spending less during their trips. The Bahamas, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic received record numbers last year but tourists are tightening their purse strings.

Caribbean Sees Increase in Tourists but Spending is Down

Caribbean tourism officials have revealed that even though more tourists are heading to the region for tropical breaks, they are spending less during their time on the islands.

The number of tourists taking Caribbean holidays is steadily rising with island nations including The Bahamas, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic receiving a record number of visitors in 2010.

However, the ongoing economic turbulence around the world has meant that tourists are tightening their purse strings during their Caribbean breaks.

Josef Forstmayr, the President of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Organisation, explained: "The bodies are travelling, obviously, but the spending is clearly impacted.

"The larger destinations have it a little easier. They have more resources, they get better airlift, they have better products."

 Venus Falls , St. Lucia
Image by: smirnoff_13, on Flickr

Many travellers postponed their holidays to the Caribbean during the height of the economic crisis, but as the months go on and the outlook remains dismal, tourists are holding onto their money during visits to the region’s tropical islands.

Forstmayr said that registration for the marketing event, Caribbean Marketplace, which will be held in the Bahamas in January 2012, is up by nearly 50 per cent compared with last year.

"We expect a strong winter," he said. "Overall bookings from all the islands are up from last year."

 Saona Island, Dominican Republic
Image by: ankuv, on Flickr

Caribbean tourism officials are hoping that this year’s tourist arrivals will exceed last year’s winter season numbers which totalled 23 million.

Carolyn Spencer Brown, the editor-in-chief of CruiseCritic.com explained that holidaymakers are demanding cheaper prices for Caribbean holidays and value for money packages before they book.

"People are very quirky these days about value for money," she said. "They'll splurge for it, but it better be worth it."

The Research Director for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Winfield Griffith, noted that more visitors, especially returning tourists, are choosing to take public buses to get around the islands rather than taking taxis, and they are buying food and drink at supermarkets instead of eating out in restaurants.

They know the drill," he said. "In Barbados, for instance, you can pay $2 by public transport to go anywhere in the country. To go around the country by taxi would probably run you in the neighbourhood of $150. That's a massive difference."

Many holidaymakers are choosing all inclusive Caribbean hotels and resorts to avoid additional costs during their idyllic escapes.

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