Montserrat: 20,000 tourist arrivals first time in active volcano era
The Montserrat Tourism Division, Office of the Premier reports that visitor arrivals to the island in 2019 increased by 14% over 2018, signaling the first time since the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano in 1995 that the number has crossed 20,000. For the period January to December 2019, Montserrat recorded 20,956 total visitor arrivals compared to 18,338 for the same period in 2018.
A 59% increase in cruise visits was largely responsible for the overall growth and this was complemented by a 2% increase in stayover arrivals. The Caribbean region led the way, generating 19% of total stayover visits, followed by the UK, which accounted for 13.4% and the US, which produced 12.6%. Commenting on the positive results, Director of Tourism, Warren Solomon, said “We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to surpass the threshold of 20,000 visitors. It tells us that we’re on the right track with our marketing initiatives and that if we are able to be consistent in our delivery, we could continue the growth trend.”
The Hon. Premier and Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Joseph Farrell and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Premier, Mrs Daphne Cassell, are working with Ministry of Finance to secure additional funding for marketing to increase stay-over visitors.
The tourism data released by the Statistics Department also revealed a 1% growth in visitor spend, amounting to $27 million. This means that although more people are visiting the island, this is not being fully reflected in their level of expenditure. The Tourism Division is confident that its product development initiatives, some of which include enhancements to the trail network and beach facilities, service training in the tourism sector and the construction of a Volcano Interpretive Centre would stimulate increased activity and spending by visitors to the island.
“We recently launched a new survey tool that will capture both the sentiments of our visitors, as well as more accurate estimates of their expenditure,” noted Product Development Officer, Rosetta West-Gerald, “This will allow us to better understand both the positive or negative impacts of our product offerings and make adjustments where necessary.”
Some of the new planned marketing activities in which the Tourism Division will be engaging in 2020 include: The launch of a new website to enhance its digital marketing capabilities, a more aggressive approach to going after the group and excursion markets in Antigua, and a number of trade and consumer initiatives in the US, UK and Canada.