Over Two Million International Tourists “Missing” In The Caribbean?

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Barometer publication (June 2017, Vol. 15), international tourist arrivals to the Caribbean region amounted to 25.2 million for the year. However, according the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), tourist arrivals surpassed 29 million.

So, why the difference of at least 2 million tourists between the CTO and UNWTO numbers for 2016? Well, it may depend on how both organizations define what a tourist is.This would certainly help to explain the gap. However, the UNWTO Barometer publication also included an asterisk in the 2016 column (my table below is just an extract of their main table with two additional columns):

Date Source: UNWTO

It’s not clear what the asterisk in the 2016 column means as the entire publication is not available for free. So, this could also be hiding the reason for the difference in numbers. Interestingly, the UNWTO press release had this to say when it came to regional results:

International arrivals in the Americas were up 4% with strong results in South America and Central America (both +7%), while arrivals in North America grew by 3% and in the Caribbean by 2%.

But if we look at the % change column between 2016 and 2015 for the Caribbean, the value is 4.5% and not 2% as per the press release. As a simple check, I also looked at the % change of North and South America, which came to 2.9 and 6.4% respectively, which is in line with the press release of 3% and 7%. So now we have another question, why the % change difference in international tourist arrivals for the Caribbean on the UNWTO’s publications?

The world may never know.

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