With the cruise industry well and truly up and running, several Caribbean Islands are reaping the rewards in terms of increased visitor numbers, as is the case for Turks and Caicos.
With Grand Turk a major cruise destination, the island is breaking visitor arrival numbers, with more than 170,000 visitors in the first quarter of 2022.
It proves once again the popularity of Grand Turk as a cruise destination. And it’s not just cruise ship arrivals that are pushing the economic recovery for the island group; air arrivals are doing equally well.
Cruise Arrival Approaching 2019 Levels
2019 was, by far, the busiest cruise season for Turks and Caicos since cruise ships started to visit the popular Caribbean Islands.
With the cruise lines now sailing at maximum vessel capacity, for the most part, the islands are beginning to recover the losses they made over the last two years. It also means that numbers are beginning to resemble the record-visitor numbers of 2019.
During the first three months of 2022, Turks and Caicos recorded 173,151 cruise arrivals. Those passengers arrived during 79 cruise ship calls.
“We are indeed buoyed by these figures, in particular the month of March, which is critical to our sector,” said Mary Lightbourne, Director of Tourism (Actg), Turks and Caicos Tourist Board. “The first quarter, especially March, is traditionally excellent for winter vacationers, have seen a robust in visitor arrivals, almost paralleling the corresponding month in 2019, which saw the best pre-COVID arrivals for the sector.”
At the end of last year, 25,573 guests visited Grand Turk, 21% of the 117,827 visitors that arrived by cruise ship in 2019. However, the 173,151 cruise visitors in the first three months of 2022 were 62% of the 277,280 cruise arrivals in the first three months of 2019.
Although December and January are typically the busiest months for cruise ships to visit Turks and Caicos, the numbers have increased steadily since then. In January, Turks and Caicos welcomed 27 ships with 43,035 cruise visitors, whereas February saw 24 ships visiting the islands, bringing 50,148 cruise visitors with them.
March saw the most significant increase in passenger numbers as Turks and Caicos welcomed 28 ships and 79,968 cruise visitors. This increase has to do mainly with the rise in capacity sailings onboard the vessels.
“These arrival figures are indicative that the Turks and Caicos continue to be a sought after destination. We are indeed on pace to increase our arrivals in the coming weeks and months, welcoming all our guests to our Beautiful by Nature isles,” added Miss Lightbourne.
With the CDC lifting its risk advisory for cruise ships in March, there is more than enough room for Turks and Caicos to welcome even more ships and visitors during the coming months.
Air and Cruise Arrival Boost Turks and Caicos’ Economy
It’s not just the cruise ship arrivals that are pushing the Turks and Caicos economy to pre-COVID levels. Arrivals by air from overnight guests have been steadily increasing as well, providing a steady and reliable income for local residents.
During the first months of 2022, the Turks and Caicos Islands saw visitor numbers nearly double between January and March. Visitor numbers went from 34,057 stopover arrivals in January to 60,109 in March 2022.
Although there is still a long way to go to reach the 1.1 million cruise ship arrivals and the 486,000 air arrivals that the country recorded in 2019, the islands have taken the road to recovery.
That recovery is sorely needed as well; just in 2018, the cruise industry alone was responsible for 86 million USD in total economic contribution, 1,401 jobs, and 26 million in wages for the local population.