Caribbean reports tourism surge, braces for Zika impact

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Caribbean is reporting a surge in tourism that easily surpassed the global growth rate as it set new arrival and spending records amid concerns the mosquito-borne Zika virus could put a dent in those numbers this year.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization says nearly 29 million people visited the region last year. Officials said Tuesday that represents a 7 per cent jump that surpassed the 4 per cent global tourism growth rate. Visitors spent $30 billion last year, a $1 billion increase from 2014.

The news comes as Latin American and Caribbean countries struggle with an increase in Zika cases. Officials said there have been a “negligible” number of trip cancellations to the Caribbean but did not have a specific figure. Puerto Rico has reported several wedding and business conference cancellations.