Posted on 11/23/2016 | About Toronto, Ontario

CTO secretary general Hugh Riley was in Toronto, yesterday for a Media Day event where he addressed the performance of the Canadian market, which, he candidly admitted, “has been a challenge for us this year.”

After last year’s 4.5 percent rise, Canadian visitation to the Caribbean has declined in 2016 - a situation that is being is attributed to the depreciation of the loonie against the US dollar.During the first six months of 2016, the Caribbean welcomed approximately 2.1 million Canadians, down 3.7 percent when compared to the same period last year.Riley said the numbers fell during each of the first six months, with the exception of May which was flat.The first quarter recorded a decline of 3.9 percent, and a slightly better performance in the second quarter, which recorded a drop of 3.3 percent when compared to the same period in 2015.Eight of the 24 reporting destinations recorded growth, with highs of 24.9 percent in the Turks and Caicos Islands and 14.1 percent in Suriname.Barbados, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guyana, St. Maarten and St. Vincent & the Grenadines registered moderate growth.As far as the source Provinces are concerned, said Riley, Ontario continues to be Number One, producing 61 percent of Canada’s visitors to the Caribbean, with Quebec a distant second at 11 percent.Cuba remained the top Caribbean destination for Canadians during the first half of this year, receiving over 527 thousand visitors, down 4.3 percent when compared to last year.The sluggish Canadian market did not reflect the overall visitation. Taking into account all markets, visitor arrivals to the Caribbean grew by 5.2 percent during the first half of this year.In absolute terms, that’s 15.7 million tourist visits - over 775 thousand more than in 2015.Estimates showed that arrivals have increased in each month of the year.All key performance metrics for the hotel industry declined for the first half of 2016 based on data compiled by Smith Travel Research (STR) Inc.Hotel room occupancy rate declined by 2.6 percent to 70.1 percent; the average daily rate fell by 2.8 percent to $240.85 and revenue per available room was $170.45, down by 6.1 percent.The slumps were influenced by a 1.2 percent rise in room stock and a 2.3 percent fall in demand, attributed in part to the sharing economy.“So far, the overall performance in 2016 has remained above trend and in line with our projected 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent rise, which would take us over the 30 million mark for the first time ever.” Said RileySome CTO upcoming events to note:The Sustainable Tourism Conference returns in 2017 and will be held in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Ther State of the Tourism Industry Conference next year will be in Grenada in September or October. Dates for both are still to be confirmed.