More than 20,000 people visited Montserrat last year, the first time the island crossed that milestone since a volcanic eruption more than two decades ago.
According to the Montserrat Tourism Division, some 20,956 people visited the island, an increase of 14 per cent over the prior year which saw 18,338 visitors.
It’s the only time the island has surpassed the landmark figure since the Soufriere Hills Volcano began erupting in 1995, after being dormant for centuries, forcing the evacuation of roughly 5,000 people and making a portion of it uninhabitable.
“This means that although more people are visiting the island, this is not being fully reflected in their level of expenditure.”– Montserrat Tourism Division
The increase was spurred by a 59 per cent increase in cruise visits and a two per cent increase in stayover arrivals.
According to the Tourism Division, “The Caribbean region led the way, generating 19 per cent of total stayover visits, followed by the UK, which accounted for 13.4 per cent and the US, which produced 12.6 per cent.”
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.”
Visitor spend on the island increased to $27 million, a one per cent increase over the previous year. “This means that although more people are visiting the island, this is not being fully reflected in their level of expenditure”, the Division. However, it said coming initiatives, including enhancements to the trail network and beach facilities, will “stimulate increased activity and spending by visitors to the island.”
Additionally, the Division said its marketing activities for the year will comprise a launch a new website, a more aggressive approach to group and excursion markets in Antigua, and a number of trade and consumer initiatives in the US, UK and Canada.