Destination Ranking

Germans head for smaller Caribbean and Central American destinations

Top growth destinations in the Caribbean and Central America
Top growth destinations in the Caribbean and Central America

Lesser-known exotic destinations like Belize, Panama and Jamaica are attracting more German holidaymakers while long-standing favourites such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba lost popularity last year, according to the newly-published fvw Destination Ranking 2019.

The Caribbean has shaken off the effects of devastating hurricanes in autumn 2017 and proved its resilience last year. According to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the region achieved its second-highest total ever with nearly 30 million international visitors compared to the record figure of 30.6 million in 2017. Many large and small destinations count among the regional winners, fvw’s annual review of worldwide destination trends showed.

Number one in the growth stakes was little-known Belize, which is making a name for itself among diving fans. With the Belize Barrier Reef, the small country between Mexico and Guatemala is home to the second-largest coral reef system on the planet. International visitor numbers increased 15% last year and by 66% in a five-year comparison to reach nearly 490,000. German visitor numbers to the niche destination have more than doubled in the same period.

Another winner on the German source market is Panama, which offers 15 different national parks and is an attractive destination for tours combined with Costa Rica or Colombia. Over the last five years, German visitor numbers have more than doubled to 35,000, although international numbers have fluctuated at around the 2.5 million level for some time.

The region’s biggest destinations have been through ups and downs on the German source market since 2013, the fvw Destination Ranking showed.

Mexico, which is the top destination for Germans in the region, has performed spectacularly despite criminality and security issues as tourists flock to its beaches and cultural attractions. German arrivals are estimated to have risen to about 274,000 last year, which would be an 81% rise over the last five years. International visitor numbers have increased by 73% since 2013 to reach over 41 million last year.

The second-largest regional destination for German holidaymakers is the Dominican Republic, which suffered an 18% slump to about 216,000 visitors in 2018 as people stayed away in the aftermath of serious hurricane damage. Until then, the country had enjoyed several years of steady single-digit growth. More than 6.5 million international tourists visited the Caribbean state last year.

Another loser on the German market last year was Cuba with a 14% drop to 208,000 visitors following high price increases and quality issues, and after a boom with high double-digit growth rates over the previous few years. Internationally, Cuba consolidated its strong growth with 4.7 million arrivals in 2018.

In contrast, Jamaica has put itself on the tourism map in the minds of German consumers, generating a 74% rise since 2013 to more than 34,000 visitors last year. Bookings have soared in the last two years in particular.

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