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Last week Saint Lucia Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, who also serves as chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, announced that the Caribbean enjoyed a 12 percent rise in arrivals during the first quarter of 2019, compared with the first quarter of 2018. Addressing the press during Caribbean Week New York, he added that arrivals from the United States leaped a whopping 24 percent.

Dominic Fedee
Dominic Fedee.

To be sure, the Caribbean travel business during the first quarter of 2018 had been impacted not just by 2017’s two Category 5 hurricanes, but by false rumors that the storms hit most of the (immense) region. Nevertheless, said Minister Fedee, “a statistical analysis of the first quarter [of 2019] gives us much to celebrate.” That’s also good news for travel advisors, who taught a lot of geography to clients after the storms—and apparently succeeded.

FYI, European and Latin American arrivals in the Caribbean were lackluster during the first quarter of 2019. That got this reporter’s attention, because it’s at odds with a trend of recent years. And given the 12 percent overall growth in arrivals, the European and Latin American markets’ so-so performance makes the North Americans’ return to the Caribbean all the more dramatic.

As you know, it helps that airlift has increased and there’s been a spurt of hotel-building and updating in the region. Furthermore, new boutique designer hotels are targeting hipsters and millennials. However, “We’re not taking out eyes off the boomers,” said Minister Fedee. “They’re spending money. They’re paying for the weddings. And they have a lot more time on their hands.”

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