Destinations

Most visited Caribbean countries and how they stack up during spring break

@SamShankman

Apr 02, 2013 3:00 am

Skift Take

The majority of the Caribbean islands rely on American visitors to fuel their tourism industries, but Cuba is the stark exception as the second most-visited island in the region and very few Americans in sight.

— Samantha Shankman

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Ted Murphy  / Flickr

A tourist sits in his beach chair at the resort, Excellence Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. Ted Murphy / Flickr


Blocking American tourists from visiting Cuba has done little to thwart its tourism industry. The island was the second most-visited Caribbean island in 2012, according to the latest statistics released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

More than 2.83 million overnight tourists arrived in Cuba in 2012, a 4.5 percent year-over-year increase led by the Canadian market. The only island to see more visitors was the Dominican Republic where 4.56 million mostly American, overnight touristsarrived in 2012, a 5.9 percent increase over 2011.

The British island of Montserrat was the least visited island in the Caribbean in 2012. Only 4,498 visitors arrived, a 3.8 percent drop from 2011.

March is the most popular month to visit

Eleven of the 25 destinations looked at in this statistics report experienced a record month for arrivals in March 2012.

This is not surprising considering that this is when the majority of spring break vacations take place in the United States, the largest tourist market for the Caribbean islands. The United States is the main market for tourists of 16 of the 25 Caribbean destinations.

The second most popular month for arrivals was during the summer holidays in July. Seven of the 25 destinations experienced record highs in this months.

Cruise arrivals

The most popular cruise destination in the Caribbean was the Bahamas. The island welcomed 4.43 million cruise passengers in 2012, a 6.6 percent increase over 2011. The second and third most popular islands for cruisers were Cozumel, Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 2.73 million and 1.9 million arrivals, respectively.

The French island of Martinique experienced a shocking 127.3 percent increase in cruise arrivals from 2011 to 2012. Despite the phenomenal growth, the island was still the second to least visited island in region; the spike only brought it 93,515 visitors in 2012.

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