Significant growth in air travel in the Caribbean exceeds 2019 levels

Latest analysis of airline ticket sales data by ForwardKeys predicts significant growth in the Caribbean region for the fourth quarter of this year 


Popular destinations such as the Dominican Republic, the United States Virgin Islands and Curacao are expected to see continued growth in international arrivals, with growth rates of 54%, 39% and 31%, respectively. Compared to the same period in 2019, total inbound travel to the Caribbean is expected to increase by 15%. 


While couples still make up the largest group in the Caribbean at 43%, group travel (10+ people) is making a comeback with a 39% rebound compared to 2019. 


“Group travel is recovering most strongly in the Dominican Republic +100%, Sint Maarten +41% and Aruba 39%. This is being driven by travelers from the US, Canada and the UK,” says Juan A. Gómez, Head of Market Intelligence at ForwardKeys. 


The revival of travel to the Caribbean depends largely on the United States and Canada; However, the European market remains key. The Dominican Republic stands out among its competitors for its excellent connectivity with intra- and extra-regional airlines, which greatly contributes to its solid performance. 


"Jamaica and the Bahamas have significant potential to improve their performance by improving long-distance connectivity with source markets in Europe," adds Gómez. 


The United States and Canada account for the majority of bookings to the region, with Canada being the fastest-growing source market for premium cabin travelers, according to the latest airline ticketing data from ForwardKeys. 


“When looking at the destinations visited by wealthy travelers from Canada, we can see that they travel mainly to the Dominican Republic (+199%), Cuba (+114%) and Jamaica (+73%). And not only are more high-level travelers arriving from Canada, but they also make more stays of 14 nights or more (+75%) when they travel to the Caribbean, which opens the door to multi-destination trips,” says Gómez.


The US Virgin Islands, Martinique and Jamaica have seen the largest growth in long stays of more than 14 nights, at 25%, 24% and 15% respectively. 


The next source market to consider is Latin America, which represents 13% of all bookings, but it is a region that is growing very quickly, with bookings 65% above 2019 levels. 


“European origins have lost share due to capacity reductions and therefore the resulting increase in airfares, and the strength of the US source market. On the other hand, opportunities arise from the growing connections from LATAM to the Caribbean,” says Juan A. Gómez, Head of Market Intelligence at ForwardKeys. 


“In addition, LATAM countries have been increasing capacity to the Caribbean. Colombia (+157%), Brazil (+187%), Mexico (+55%) and Peru (+13%) are showing strong growth and audiences interested in a vacation in the Caribbean,” adds Gómez. 

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