Anyone who has visited the sparkling island nations in the Caribbean can vouch for returning home full of bonhomie and feel-good vibes. So, the team at ForwardKeys have the latest travel data to demonstrate that friendly hospitality and great flight connections warrant more international visitors than anywhere else in the world now.

Unstoppable popularity of the Caribbean

Throughout 2020 and 2021, the ForwardKeys data highlighted the success stories of Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic – but in 2022 the number of travellers across the region has dramatically picked up.

“The Caribbean example is not just about showing a great example of a region recovering but instead about a region that is growing – despite all the macroeconomic factors taking place now such as the slowdown of the world economy, rising costs of petrol and the effects of the war in Ukraine, “says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.

In Q4 the tourism numbers accelerate further, well across many nations. Leading the way in terms of overseas arrivals is the Dominican Republic, 40% up on 2019 levels, followed by the US Virgin Islands (+33%), Bonaire (+30%), and Martinique (+26%).

“Air connectivity appears to be the key to achieving growth,” adds Ponti. “If we examine our Seat Capacity Data, it shows destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe are performing better thanks to an increase in direct flights since 2019.”

Curacao, Bonaire, and Saint Lucia – attracting new traveller types

Faring particularly well this year are Curacao and Bonaire, experiencing a wider hunger for each respective destination thanks to a rise in affluent premium class travellers, varied origin markets (North America, Europe, and Latin America) and travel purposes.

“Premium cabin travel to the Caribbean in Q3 is up 27% versus the pre-pandemic. To Curacao and Bonaire, we can see a triple-digit increase versus 2019 levels: +120% and +110%…this is huge and especially good news not only for the airlines and hotels but for the goods and services sector.”

“This is an exact result of our Tourism Recovery Plan and our strategy to target and reach the affluent traveller seeking an eco-conscious vacation experience.  Tourism plays an important role in our economic recovery and these data results and findings are our guiding force as we plan,” says Miles Mercera, CEO of the Tourism Corporation of Bonaire.

A further sign that times are changing is that affluent travellers are flying from both North America and more recently, South America.

In Q4 the Caribbean is extremely popular with Colombians. There is a 54% change in arrival numbers versus the same time in 2019. While Curacao can see a +304% change from Argentina!

Further digging reveals that Curacao is also a growing honeymoon destination – ForwardKeys’ Air Ticketing Data reveals the number of two passengers flying is up by 42% in Q4 this year versus 2019 levels.

Lastly, some Caribbean destinations are even managing to attract the non-leisure market. Throughout the region, business travel is returning and in growth mode. Saint Lucia is up by 22% in business travellers in Q4 this year versus 2019 levels, an achievement as the destination has tried hard to interest more business events.

“Our latest data findings are exciting as it shows not only countries are back to growing their arrival figures in the Caribbean but also not overlook other key regions for new business opportunities. Yes, I am pointing at South America,” concludes Ponti.

ForwardKeys has been supporting partners in the travel and tourism sector since 2010, find out more about their full suite of products.

Book Olivier Ponti to present at your next tourism industry event or download the full presentation he gave at the CHTA Marketplace last week about the rapid growth in the Caribbean.

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