Stewart Howard, the chief executive officer of Ambergris Cay, a private island resort in the Turks and Caicos, said Canadians have been notably missing from the Caribbean since March 2020 because they faced a mandatory quarantine upon their return to Canada and were not terribly keen on traveling through the United States for connecting flights to the Caribbean. “Almost all resort visitors were from America over the past two years,” he said. (Fully vaccinated Canadian travelers no longer have to quarantine when they return home, though they do need to test negative to enter the country.)
Mr. Howard noted that Ambergris Cay’s amenities will expand in the coming year to include a clubhouse, an additional restaurant and new suites to meet what he predicts will be strong future demand. “Now, what we’re seeing is aggressive bookings, but for stays in six to nine months,” he said.
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Covid boosters. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that booster shots against the coronavirus lose much of their potency after about four months, adding to evidence suggesting that some Americans may need a fourth dose.
Not all islands in the Caribbean saw visitor increase from 2020 to 2021. Some, like the Cayman Islands, Dominica and Barbados saw a dip in their overnight visitor arrivals for reasons, including how easy — or difficult — they are to reach. Before the pandemic, Dominica was reachable only by small regional aircraft or by ferry. When one of the key inter-regional airlines, L.I.A.T., suspended all its flights in March 2020, the island was hit hard and has not recovered. In December, American Airlines launched the first nonstop flight to the island from Miami, raising hopes that visitor numbers would pick up.
Anguilla also received its first nonstop flight from Miami in December, also on American Airlines. “This will increase to daily flights starting in April,” said Georgios Tserdakidis, Anguilla’s chief marketing officer, with hopes that easier travel will help drive tourism. The country plans to expand its Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport, and a new $5.5 million Blowing Point Ferry terminal is under construction.
Other destinations, like Trinidad and the Cayman Islands, closed their borders to visitors at the start of the pandemic and only opened for tourist travel in late 2021.
Proximity also played a role — the Bahamas is the closest island group to the United States and people wanted to be closer to the mainland for safety, according to a spokesman for the Caribbean Tourism Organization.