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September performs better than expected

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - The Saint Lucia Tourist Board reports its preliminary tourism arrival figures for September 2009.




September is traditionally a slow month for stay over arrivals, but by comparison, has been one of the better performing months for the year thus far.  Preliminary figures released by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board reveal a 3% decrease in arrivals for the month of September, falling from 15,149 in 2008 to 14,675 in 2009.  This is however a much better performance than previous months, where declines fluctuated from 7.6% in January to 15% in June.  April was the only month to record an increase in arrivals (9%). 


In reviewing performance by markets, declines were noted from three of the four main source markets, but on a much smaller scale than was recorded in previous months:

·         The United States – at 5,448, arrivals fell by only 2% from last year.  This market noted a record decrease in arrivals of 32% in February and 16% in August.

·         Canada – visitor arrivals from this market was down by 121, falling from 710 arrivals in 2008 to 589 in 2009; a decline of 17% compared to a 40% decline in June and a 21% decline in August.

·         UK – this market recorded a 5% decrease in arrivals, dropping from 4,813 arrivals in September 2008 to 4,558 this month.  This is by far better than the 21% decline in arrivals recorded for two consecutive months (April and May) this year and the 14% in August.


The Caribbean was one of the few markets to show an increase in arrivals; stay-over arrivals increased from 3,216 in September 2008 to 3,248 in September 2009.  This 1% increase in arrivals however, is characterized by a 5% increase in business arrivals and a 17.5% increase in persons visiting family or friends.  Islands recording a significant increase in arrivals included Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.


September has not habitually been a strong month for cruise arrivals.  In 2009 however, the addition of 9 more cruise calls caused arrivals to jump by 187.2%, climbing from 9,323 arrivals in 2008 to 26,774 in September, 2009.


The Yachting Sector also performed well, with over 130 more yachts docking in Saint Lucia this month than in the same period of 2008; a 124.3% increase.  This has resulted in 1,213 more arrivals – 38.8% more than last year.  One may recall that the marina was under re-construction from June to November 2008, hence the drastic increase this year.





Year-to-date figures for the period January to September 2009 show an overall 9% decline in stay over arrivals, from the same period one year ago, falling from 230,789 in 2008 to 210,348 in 2009.  The greatest loss experienced was from the US market, which fell by 16.1% from the same period last year.  In addition to the reduced demand for travel, this market has also been affected by reduced airlift in the second and third quarters, namely from American Airlines’ service out of JFK, American Eagle’s service out of Puerto Rico and US Airways weekly flight out of Charlotte. 


The island’s second largest market, the UK, also recorded a similar decrease in arrivals over the nine-month period.  A total net loss of 15.4% was realized, compared to the same period last year. 


The Caribbean has continued to fare relatively well, recording positive growths for the past three months.  To date, 46,772 arrivals have been recorded from this market; only 0.14% less than one year ago.  While the largest contributors thus far, have been Martinique (16,319), Trinidad & Tobago (7,160) and Barbados (7,108), these islands have recorded a 7%, 3% and -15% growth respectively.  Significant improvements have however been noted from the Bahamas (146%), BVI (51%) and Bermuda (22%). 


Canada is the island’s fourth largest market, totaling 21,999 arrivals for the year.  Despite this comparatively low figure, this is one of the few markets to record significant increases in arrivals over the one year period.  To date, visitor arrivals are 15% higher than in the previous year, due mainly to the strong winter period experienced earlier this year.


Visitors from Germany have increased by 13% from the previous year, and it is anticipated that this figure will continue to show signs of improvement, with the arrival of Condor’s direct flight from Germany to Saint Lucia, commencing in November.  France also showed a strong growth in arrivals of 23% for the first nine months of this year, compared to the same period last year. 



Cruise passenger arrivals increased by 12.3% from 426,097 in 2008 to 478,346 in the same period in 2009.  This was as a direct result of the 29% increase in cruise ship calls over the same period. 


Arrivals by yacht continue to illustrate consistent growth, with increases being recorded every month for the last nine months, resulting in a general increase of 39% from arrivals in 2008.

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