Business & Economy

Tourism in Caribbean rebounding, with Cancun, Dominican Republica in lead

Cancun, Mexico, Jan 30 (EFE).- Tourism in the Caribbean rebounded in 2022 after the end of coronavirus lockdowns with record-setting numbers of people flocking to the beaches in Cancun, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and with an almost complete recovery in Colombia, although with some lags in Cuba.

In Mexico, which welcomes almost half of all international visitors to Latin America, according to the Statista and Latinometrics consulting firms, the southeastern state of Quintana Roo set a record last year with more than 30 million arrivals at the Cancun airport, according to the state government.

“We closed out (the year) with a total of 19.7 million tourists. These were people who stayed overnight in our hotels and here we’re adding national and international tourists,” said Javier Aranda, the director of the Tourism Promotion Council in Quintana Roo, where the seaside resort community of Cancun is located and which received 47.5 percent of Mexico’s yearly international tourist trade.

Mexico consolidated itself as the third most-visited country in the world during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic given the lack of health restrictions there, but Aranda said that many of the tourists visiting the city now are “repeaters.”

“These tourists, although they have the chance to go to other places, already got to know the sweet taste of enjoying the different destinations in Quintana Roo and that gives us a bit advantage because they want to return to (experience) more,” Aranda said.

He added that almost 127,000 hotel rooms are available in Cancun now that investment has picked up again.

“There were more than 235 restaurants with investments of more than $1 million in the Mexican Caribbean, from Chetumal to Holbox,” added Marcy Bezaleel Pacheco, the state president of the national restaurant association Canirac.

Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, 7.1 million tourists arrived by air and 1.3 million on cruise ships last year, surpassing the prepandemic level and hitting record figures in 2022, the year in which the World Tourism Organization recognized the country for its “exemplary” tourism recovery.

According to figures provided by the Tourism Ministry, tourists spent a record $8.671 billion last year, with 10 percent more tourists arriving by air and 20 percent more by cruise ship than in 2019.

In remarks to EFE, Andres Marranzini, the executive vice president of the Dominican Republic’s hotel and restaurant association Asonahores, said that the country’s hotel sector closed out 2022 with room occupancy rates more than 75 percent above the average.

“It’s very good occupancy. In all months, we welcomed more tourists than we did before the pandemic,” he said.

Before the pandemic, “We were at about 70 percent but never at the figures we experienced in 2022,” he said.

In December, more than 700,000 visitors, a “landmark” figure, arrived in the Dominican Republic, far above the monthly average of 400,000 travelers for 2022.

Puerto Rico’s tourism sector also hit records in 2022 in numbers of people employed in the tourism sector (more than 91,000) as well as in lodging revenue ($1.6 billion) and passengers moving through the island’s international airport (more than 10 million).

“We had a very good year in 2022, it exceeded 2021, which had been up to that time the best year in Puerto Rico’s history in terms of tourism,” Ricardo Cortes, the director of Public Affairs for the official Discover Puerto Rico tourism promotion organization, told EFE.

Cortes emphasized that the industry “is growing and expanding and is showing some very healthy numbers for the local economy.”

He noted in particular the 14.6 percent growth in tourism sector employment over 2019 and the $1.6 billion earned from the lodging subsector, almost double the amount brought in six years ago.

Tourism in Colombia has almost fully recovered with more than 3.5 million international travelers visiting the country between January and October 2022, growth of 145.2 percent compared to the same period the year before, according to Colombian Immigration authorities.

When compared with the same months in 2019, the year prior to the pandemic, the figures for 2022 showed a 98.6 percent recovery.

The mecca for Colombian tourism remains the sun and beach city of Cartagena, famous for its lovely colonial architecture and it also was recognized as South America’s top honeymoon destination for 2022 at the World Travel Awards, known as the Tourism Oscars.

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