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Just how bad was 2020’s Tourism decline? TCI Tourist Board statistics reveal

#TurksandCaicos, May 3, 2021 – Turks and Caicos Tourism Board data shows a drastic drop in overall visitors to the Islands from 2019’s record-breaking 1,598,557 to 370,406 in 2020, translating to a 77 per cent drop. 

Stopover arrivals slumped by 66 per cent, cruise passenger arrival down by 81 per cent and the number of cruise vessels at port dropped by 81 per cent compared to 2019.

The phenomenal drop in the overall performance of the TCI tourism industry could be attributed to the impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic that almost brought down the entire tourism industry to a standstill. 

According to the UNWTO Impact Assessment of the Covid-19 Outbreak on the International Tourism report, it was projected there would be an overall decline of 70-75 per cent in tourism for the whole of 2020. 

Based on a report prepared by the TCI Tourist Board Statistical Officer Ms. Sharissa Lightbourne, stopover arrivals from the major markets such as the US, Canada, and Europe recorded a decline of 65, 62, and 79 per cent, respectively. 

Even though the stopover arrivals to the Turks and Caicos Islands increased by 13 per cent in the first two months of 2020 compared to the previous year, the promising trend was soon compromised as the Islands recorded a 53 per cent drop in stopovers in March 2020 due to the detrimental impact of the novel Coronavirus in major TCI tourism markets and border closure from March 24 to July 22, 2020.

The remarkable 1,598,557 visitor arrivals in 2019 represented a nine per cent increase from the previous year’s figures. Broken down into various categories, the arrivals included 86,739 Stopover and 1,111,818 cruise visits.

The Grand Turk Cruise Center welcomed a 9 percent increase in cruise passengers and an 11 per cent increase in cruise year-over-year. 

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the remarkable growth made by the tourism industry in the region in 2019 could be attributed to strong demand from the main markets.

Increased airlift capacity, more diverse accommodation facilities, and sustainable recovery following hurricane season 2017 were some of the additional factors that fueled a blast in tourism the region’s tourism industry. 

With the borders closed for some months, hotels shut, cruise vessels stopped sailing, air travels restricted, and the government imposed rafts of restrictions to protect the locals and mitigate the spread of the pandemic, the ever-promising TCI’s blue economy came crumbling within months, as in other Caribbean countries. 

However, with the intensified global vaccination drive and promising progress in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s hope at the end of the tunnel for the TCI tourism sector as the virus containment efforts prove effective. 

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