US and UK tourists returning to Caribbean

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Beaches are ‘vibrant with tourists’ in Jamaica, says Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill

The Caribbean is welcoming back millions of Americans who have fled the region due to recent tensions between the US and its allies in the region.

Travellers have been encouraged by US President Donald Trump not to travel to non-essential trips and security measures have been tightened since September 2017.

The General Manager of the Reef Club on the island of Barbados, Fergus McMorrow, tells the BBC there has been a “small but very manageable” downturn.

Growth in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago has proved more resilient.

“Bermuda and Dominican Republic have been much more competitive with mass tourism. There has been an impact for these places,” he said.

However, he added that Barbados had benefited from its appeal to people with ties to the US.

“Barbados is a destination with a US family or who have tied hands with Americans through their ancestry or through marriages. The tendency to the international traveller, to come here, is on the up.”

Nevertheless, the island’s worst ever hurricane season in 2016 also saw several American residents suspend travel to the region.

Image copyright Google Images Image caption Jamaica spent £6.2m ($8m) to rebuild after the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017

Trinidad and Tobago was also particularly affected by Hurricane Irma in 2017, and now resorts are reporting that visitors are more cautious.

“We have been able to mitigate this issue by offering people who are thinking of visiting this destination a psychological deterrence of a hurricane season,” said Jackie Richens, of the Sandals Heritage Resort.

Economic losses during the hurricane season are estimated at around $7bn in Jamaica.

“The tourism impact on our country has been significant, but the good news is that at the same time we are now getting lots of enquiries from last year. People are starting to feel confident again about coming here,” said Tanya Henry, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism.

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