The Caribbean in 2019: tourist numbers are up and it’s carnival almost every day
After the devastating hurricanes in autumn 2017, the 2018 Caribbean tourism season went better than expected, even if no records were broken. This year it is hoped there will be a big rise in tourism. At ITB Berlin the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) forecast tourist arrivals to increase by six to seven per cent in 2019. The hotels on the neighbouring islands which were also devastated are open again and doing good business. “Things have been going very well lately”, said CTO director Ryan Skeete even before ITB. Some 29.9 million tourists visited the Caribbean last year, the second-best figure of all time. In 2017 there were 30.6 million guests.
The over 30 islands are heavily promoting their unique “Caribbean feeling" and many festivals. It’s carnival all year round – no worries! Trinidad and Tobago, where towards the end of the carnival season well over 400,000 fans throng the streets of the capital Port of Spain, have their celebrations in February and March, as do many other islands.
In Cuba, St. Lucia and Anguilla dancing breaks out in July/August in the streets and squares, often trailing an articulated lorry with a band on top. In the Bahamas and on St. Kitts, carnival is in memory of the age of slavery and takes place on the only public holiday at that time between 25 December and 1 January. For many islanders there is only one thing to do: take off their Sunday best and jump straight into carnival clothes. And on Dominica and Guadeloupe the native tradition is to even celebrate Ash Wednesday.
Beaches, the sea, palm trees, hammocks, first-class hotels and 365 days of sunshine can be found in other places around the world too. “However, nothing highlights the culture of the Caribbean more than the almost daily festivals, regattas, concert performances, culinary events, culminating in carnival season", said Hugh Riley, secretary general of the CTO. The influence and languages of the Spanish, French, English and Dutch is what also makes these islands so unique.
Calypso groups drumming up an atmosphere on the beach under a full moon, parties and hiking tours, going to church with the islanders, Caribbean rum and innumerable different cocktails – all that is part of the tourism experience.
Most tourists visit the mainly larger islands such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. However, the smaller islands such as Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Aruba, Curacao, St. Martin and Barbados are also very popular.
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