Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean fell by 65.5 per cent in 2020, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, CTO, but it is forecasting a turnaround this year.

In a statement released on Monday, the CTO said the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry was particularly evident during the period of April to mid-June, when there was literally no activity in some destinations.

Caribbean countries record 50 per cent decline in visitor arrivals in first six months of 2020

The CTO said a period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March, and the second quarter was the worst-performing with arrivals down by 97.3 per cent.

Tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to reopen.

However the fall-off in stayover arrivals continued through to September, when a gradual reversal began and continued right up to December.

Destination initiatives such as the long-stay work programmes, other promotional activities, and efforts of regional organisations such as the CTO, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, contributed to the gradual rise in arrivals.

Like stayover arrivals, cruise was buoyed by the performance in the first three months of 2020, particularly the month of February, when there was a 4.2 per cent rise in visits.

However, a 20.1 per cent fall in the first quarter was followed by no activity for the remainder of the year as ships remained non-operational.

The overall result was a 72 per cent slide to 8.5 million cruise visits, when compared to the 30 million visits in 2019.