Tourism to Macau is very big business. The Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) announced on Wednesday January 23rd that 35.8 million stopover and day tourists visited Macau in 2018, an increase of 9.8 percent over 2017.
On average, 98,092 visitors arrived in Macau every day last year.
According to official statistics, overnight visitors accounted for 18.5 million visitors (51.6 percent of the total number of visitor arrivals), up 7.2 percent compared with 2017. The number of same-day visitors rose by 12.7 percent.
Visitors’ average length of stay remained unchanged year-on-year at 1.2 days. On average, overnight visitors stayed for 2.2 days.
91% of visitors were from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Mainlanders, Hongkongers and Taiwanese accounted for 70.5 percent, 17.6 percent and 2.9 percent of all visitor arrivals last year, up 13.8 percent, 2.6 percent and 0.1 percent respectively. The three Chinese regions accounted for 91 percent of Macau’s total number of visitor arrivals last year.
South Korea continued to be Macau’s number one source of foreign visitors, rising 7.0% to 812,842 visitors, or 2.3% of all visitor arrivals.
A total of 201,810 US citizens visited Macau last year, up 8.3%. Each of the other foreign visitor segments remained under the 100,000 threshold.
Guangdong residents made up 41.6% of the total number of mainlanders who visited Macau last year.
Following the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Bridge bridge on October 24 last year, 1.05 million visitors entered Macau via the mega-bridge, the point of entry which received the second largest number of visitors during the period.
The Zhuhai-Macau Barrier Gate land-border checkpoint handled 18.2 million visitor arrivals last year, a year-on-year growth of 13.2%. In total, 22.15 million visitors arrived by land.
In the wake of the opening of the delta bridge, the number of visitor arrivals by sea fell 7.8% to 10.3 million last year.
Some 3.29 million visitors arrived by plane or helicopter, up 20.1%.
A total of 3.56 million visitors arrived last month, up 16.9% year-on-year and 9.3% month-to-month, hitting a new monthly record. On average, 115,155 visitors arrived in Macau in December.
A forecast of an increase in visitor arrivals of 5 or 6 percent was announced for 2019, or about 38 million visitors.
Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), the leading technology provider to the global travel industry, today released a study in partnership with TrendWatching, global consumer trends and insights experts, which reveals the top consumer trends that will shape the hospitality industry in 2019 and beyond.
"The hospitality industry is always reinventing itself, constantly adapting to the changing expectations of travelers," said Clinton Anderson, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. "As a result, digital transformation has become a rising priority for hoteliers due to its ability to generate more targeted, personalized offers. Ultimately, shifts in how individuals interact with technology, brands and even space translate directly into new, untapped opportunities for hoteliers. As a trusted partner to the hospitality industry, Sabre is committed to providing hoteliers with the most innovative technology solutions that will drive revenue, and to identifying the trends that will influence consumer behavior in the future," he added.
While time-pressed travelers may wish to avoid other people during their stay, others will welcome companionship – even in virtual form. Travelers deeply accustomed to digital assistants, chatbots and more will look to the next evolution of artificial intelligence. They will seek out virtual personalities that have the power to entertain, educate and befriend. The presence of virtual digital assistants has grown incrementally since 2011 and shows no sign of stopping.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are expanding into hospitality – building immersive brand experiences for their customers – providing an entirely new breed of competition for traditional players, while delighting loyal fans. Social media feeds have become saturated with picture-perfect travel snapshots of branded lifestyles, and as a result, consumers have ever-higher standards when shopping. Brands hold the capacity of reaching overstimulated customers by launching unique partnerships to cut through the noise in unexpected locations.
Using their devices to summon a "magic point-of-sale," travelers can engage with establishments, browse products, test and purchase in innovative new ways. Smart brands are using technology to gain rich data on consumer preferences and habits, and are leveraging innovative channels like these to reach them in the right place, at the right time. Globally, the augmented reality (AR) market hit $1.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach $7.9 billion by 2023. The maturing of virtual reality (VR) and AR revolutionizes how and where consumers shop and engage with brands.
The proliferation of on-demand services and co-working environments are transforming expectations around work and travel. A growing cohort of professionals are making travel their main priority by becoming digital nomads. The explosion in gig economy and freelancing platforms indicate that consumers are embracing alternative lifestyles that don't tie them down to a specific company, location, or even daily schedule.
Download the full report here: http://bit.ly/2QSuouB.
There was a time when the stigma of all-inclusive resorts was strong enough to hurt any destination that opened one up. After all, all-inclusive resorts were widely perceived as budget-friendly, cookie-cutter resorts in the mainstream, totally on-the-beaten-path destinations.
But now that most consumers have seen firsthand that “luxury” and “all-inclusive” can, in fact, be used in the same sentence, the presence of high-end, value-packed, all-inclusive hotels now helps a destination garner a reputation for being trendy and on the rise.
“As a Caribbean specialist, I'm asked all the time about all-inclusive resorts on islands that purposefully do not offer an all-inclusive property, like Grand Cayman, or those who only have all-inclusives that target a certain market, i.e. Turks and Caicos, which could really use an adults-only all-inclusive in the mix,” said Lindsey Epperly, owner of Epperly Travel in Atlanta, Georgia. “The collective response in destinations like this, from locals and those in the tourism industry alike, is that an all-inclusive would take away from the overall luxury aspect of the island and compete with the local restaurant economy.”
TravelPulse recently chatted with Epperly and other top-notch advisors about what destinations would benefit from an all-inclusive resort and which ones need to upgrade its current all-inclusive resort offerings. Here’s what they had to say.
“I’ve lately been seeing a trend where my clients want more exotic destinations like Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, the U.S. Virgin Islandsand St. Kitts," said Emily Bertsch, a Caribbean specialist with VIP Vacations, Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “A well-known, all-inclusive brand can really help drive business to an island. Most of those exotic destinations have some all-inclusive resorts, like the Sandals brand, but not everyone can afford a Sandals budget. I think another well-known resort brand, like a Secrets [Resorts & Spas], Dreams [Resorts & Spas], Riu [Hotels], Iberostar [Hotels & Resorts] or Barcelo [Hotels & Resorts], could really benefit from looking into some property in these destinations."
“Puerto Rico is also another destination where a lot of my clients are looking for an all-inclusive," added Bertsch, "so I’m very excited for the Dreams resort that will be opening there as I think it will be a very popular option once it opens.”
However, Bertsch might have to be a bit patient. Back in June, after years of waiting for Puerto Rico to open its first all-inclusive resort, it was announced that the traveling public will have to wait a little longer.
AMResorts planned a Dreams Resorts & Spas property that was supposed to open sometime this year in Puerto Rico joins the long list of hotels to suffer a setback due to last year’s hurricane season.
Javier Coll, executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Apple Leisure Group (ALG), the parent company of AMResorts, told TravelPulse back in June that the “project is facing a significant delay due to some permits that haven’t been approved yet.”
Coll said at the time that Hurricane Maria hitting the island in 2017 made this process more challenging because the involved government offices were closed for a long time. While ALG waited for them to reopen, one of the permits ALG already had expired and had to be renewed, said Coll. When the hotel opens, it will represent the destination’s only all-inclusive.
Although agents are excited to see an all-inclusive hotel in Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands is arguably the Caribbean destination without an all-inclusive that can use one the most.
After all, the destination, specifically Grand Cayman, is home to some of the hottest resorts in the region from the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa to Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
This has long been a destination for the client who is willing to pay up for quality accommodations and service, so a luxury all-inclusive here would make perfect sense. Millennial brands like Karisma Hotels & Resorts and AMResorts would certainly make a nice fit.
In fact, Rosa Harris, director of tourism for the Cayman Islands, has told media in the past that the destination is actively pursuing an all-inclusive resort.
However, Harris also said at the time that the ultimate plan would be to have an all-inclusive resort on the destination’s lesser-known Cayman Brac. She also said she would like to see one on the more mainstream island of Grand Cayman.
When it comes to the U.S., Hawaii tourism officials have always taken the stance that an all-inclusive product in the destination would keep many tourists from dining around the island. In fact, this is a common concern amongst destinations that don’t have an all-inclusive and was actually Puerto Rico’s reason for not having any all-inclusive resorts before it eventually decided to go forward with the Dreams plans.
“I have seen very well-done, four-star all-inclusive properties, like the Excellence [Resorts] brand, and impeccable five-star all-inclusive properties, like Grand Velas Resorts throughout Mexico, or high-end, boutique all-inclusive hotels, like Curtain Bluff or Hermitage Bay in Antigua, that require additional education and evidence to convince a traveler that they will not be among the masses of a party scene and tainted alcohol, which I believe has now become synonymous with all-inclusives,” said Epperly.
However, as far as Hawaii goes, there are still a host of agents like Anthony Tucker, vice president and general manager at the All Inclusive Outlet in Georgetown, Kentucky, who think the all-inclusive model doesn’t fit in Hawaii or the U.S. mainland.
“I think that for the U.S. market, in general, all-inclusives work where the destination is beautiful, but also where travelers do not have a strong desire to go out of their way to explore. For example, most people are not going to rent a car in Cancun, Dominican Republic or Jamaica,” said Tucker. “That is not a commentary on safety, but with familiarity and confidence in their travels. In general, most of the time travelers going off-property are to the pre-arranged excursions such as shopping, adventure parks, dolphin swimming, etc.
“However, in a place like Florida or Hawaii, the all-inclusive concept has been tried and we've had a hard time moving considerable business, in my opinion, due to two factors: one, the price, of course, is higher for U.S. based properties, but also two, how familiar Americans are with getting out and do things elsewhere on their own.”
As far as U.S. territories go, the U.S. Virgin Islands has an all-inclusive presence on the island, but many agents are clamoring for a more high-end, all-inclusive experience.
“We always get asked for the [U.S.] Virgin Islands, but many times, when the client hears they don’t have [many] all-inclusive resorts, we look elsewhere,” said Michael McHugh, co-owner of Dream Makers Vacation Services.
Like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba also has some all-inclusive resorts but the experts we spoke to would like to see more.
“As a honeymoon specialist, I would love to see Aruba step up their all-inclusive game. There are a few all-inclusives on the island, but I’d love to see a Sandals or Excellence property break ground over there," said Bailie White, owner of BE The Travel in Lansing Michigan.
And as Epperly previously mentioned, Turks and Caicos is home to arguably the Caribbean’s best family all-inclusive resort in the form of Beaches Turks and Caicos, but other advisors like her would love to see this luxury island open up a five-star, adults-only, all-inclusive hotel or even a budget-friendly, all-inclusive option for couples.
“Turks and Caicos could use more all-inclusive resorts. Families and singles who want to stay in an all-inclusive are looking for value,” said Ashley Hughes of TravelSmiths in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. “Beaches offers a ton of value, but not everyone needs all the bells and whistles that Beaches offers and has the budget for Beaches. They need something more mid-tier that singles, families and couples can enjoy.”
In the Caribbean, an area of the world that’s more dependent on tourism than any other region across the globe, coral reef-adjacent tourism generates a staggering $7.9 billion annually.
That translates into about 23 percent of all tourism spending in the region and is equivalent to more than 10 percent of the Caribbean’s gross domestic product, according to a new report from JetBlue created in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, an organization focused on conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.
Concerningly, however, coral reef health is diminishing from impacts such as pollution and climate change.
“Scientific evidence shows that living corals in the Caribbean have declined over 60 percent in just the last three decades alone,” stated Dr. Luis Solórzano, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean, as part of the new report, entitled “Estimating Reef-Adjacent Tourism Value in the Caribbean.”
Created with the support of Microsoft and the World Travel & Tourism Council, the newly issued study focuses on the connection between natural resources and tourism. The innovative study used machine learning and artificial intelligence to quantify the significant value that reefs contribute to the Caribbean economy through reef-adjacent activities such as sailing, diving and snorkeling.
“This study proves the relationship between healthy coral reefs and tourism, and the overall financial stability of the Caribbean. It’s time for conservation organizations like The Nature Conservancy and the tourism industry to work together on solutions to conserve the region’s resources,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, head of sustainability and environmental, social governance, JetBlue.
This is the second such study funded by JetBlue to measure the correlation between Caribbean ecosystems and travel industry revenue. The first report EcoEarnings: A Shore Thing, was issued in 2015.
The airline has a vested interest in ensuring the long-term health of the region and its tourism economy. The Caribbean and Latin America account for one-third of JetBlue’s flying operations.
The Nature Conservancy has begun deploying innovative solutions to protect and restore coral reefs throughout the region, but its executive director stressed that efforts must move faster if they are to outpace the current rate of degradation and increasing threats to coral reefs.
“Millions of people in the Caribbean depend on coral reefs as a source of livelihood, and the region is known as paradise to so many travelers from around the globe,” said Solórzano. “It is our responsibility to protect the natural wonders, like coral reefs, that sustain both the Caribbean economy and tourism alike.”
Solórzano is not alone in his concerns.
“A more sustainable future depends upon our ability to better model, monitor and manage natural resources like coral reefs, and that will require human ingenuity paired with AI,” said Dr. Lucas Joppa, chief environmental officer at Microsoft.
The study’s additional key findings include:
—The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where JetBlue is the largest airline to both islands, benefit from tourist spending of more than $1 billion per year. This tourism revenue is directly linked to reefs.
--The Bahamas , Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico receive more than one million visitors per year whose visits are directly linked to coral reefs.
—The top 10 percent highest-value reef areas each generate more than $5.7 million and 7,000 visitors per square kilometer per year. These reefs are scattered in almost every country and territory in the region and have a large proportion of high-value reefs, each with an average spend value equal to over $3 million per square kilometer per year.
—The countries most dependent on reef-adjacent tourism include many small island nations and JetBlue destinations, like Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda and St. Maarten, where there may be relatively few alternative sources of income outside of reef-associated tourism.
—Only 35 percent of Caribbean reefs are positioned where they do not draw revenue for the region’s tourism sector, indicating that there are little to no options to expand reef-associated activities to new areas. Most of the reefs not used for tourism are in remote locations.
The new report also outlines a variety of potential threats to tourism in the Caribbean including climate change. As for coral reefs, they face additional threats as well including overfishing, pollution, and coastal development.
With tourism being an essential pillar of all Caribbean economies, depletion of the region's natural resources could lead to economic and social risks, states the report.
With that in mind, the report suggests tourism-associated businesses, including cruise lines, airlines, and hotels seize the opportunity to work together and continue to invest in protecting the region’s environmental health.
In response to the study, JetBlue is donating 50 flights to The Nature Conservancy for scientists to travel to the region to further research and help conserve coral reefs.
Cuba intends to close 2019 with 5.1 million foreign visitors, representing its twelfth year of growth, predicted Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero.
According to the Minister, 2018 will close with 4.75 million tourists, 850,000 of whom will have traveled on regular cruises.
In December 2018, Marrero said there was an accumulated growth of six percent in the number of visitors, which reversed the decrease experienced after Hurricane Irma early in the high season of 2017.
Although an effort had been made to have hotel facilities ready to receive vacationers, impressions of damage caused by the weather event continued, he said.
Besides, measures taken by President Donald Trump's administration to tighten the U.S. blockade against Cuba and some inefficiencies in the sector also contributed to the lower visitor arrivals, he added.
U.S. tourism stopped its decline in November 2018 and is currently up 47 percent, much of which is the result of increased cruise activity.
Marrero also considered that though 2019 could be a serious challenge for the sector, the more than five million tourists will represent a growth of 7.4 percent.
He also emphasized, for the first time, it is estimated that tourism incomes exceed three billion dollars, an increase of 17 percent. Regarding investments, the Minister said that thanks to the introduction of a new business modality in hotel management and marketing contracts, including financing, the emblematic Riviera and Habana Libre hotels in Havana could be revived.
The official acknowledged that for Havana, the development of high standard tourism is being boosted with five-star facilities such as the recently opened Iberostar Grand Packard and the Prado y Malecon, scheduled to open in late 2019.
Havana has 12,000 rooms, with 44 percent in the two and three-star categories, and there is an associated market for those businesspeople needing more comfort, he remarked.
Regarding the upcoming May celebration of the International Tourism Fair, FitCuba 2019, industry authorities in Havana expect to recover 1,121 rooms currently out of service and the opening of 12 new accommodation facilities.
The minister stressed that 36 hotels are being built throughout the country, adding, in the mid-term, some 18,000 new rooms to the more than 65,000 already existing in the island.
TORONTO — Vertical integration is still the name of the game so it’s no wonder tour operators pressed on with plans for new resorts, and new resort alliances, in 2018.
Sunwing Travel Group, already a major player on the resort scene with its Blue Diamond Resorts hotel division with 15,000+ rooms across more than a half dozen brands, fortified its position even further with a blockbuster deal with Planet Hollywood. Announcing the venture in February 2018, Sunwing Travel Group and Planet Hollywood said initial plans called for two resorts in Mexico and Costa Rica, with more to come. Right on time, Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica opened in the fall of 2018. In Mexico, Planet Hollywood Resort Cancun is slated to open in spring 2019. Sunwing is also transforming the site of the former Sonesta Great Bay in St. Maarten into a Planet Hollywood resort. And in October Sunwing announced plans to expand its hotel division again with the addition of six of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels, part of a newly formed strategic alliance that will see Sunwing grow its presence in destinations including Grenada, Tobago and Barbados.
Transat’s resort plans meanwhile are taking shape like never before, as the company makes good on its decision, first divulged in 2017, to develop its own hotel chain in the Caribbean. In September 2018 Transat announced it had purchased a stretch of land in Riviera Maya, in Puerto Morelos on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is ideally situated midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen some 20 kilometres from Cancun International Airport.
The company has also entered into a promissory agreement to purchase a second adjacent property for a total consideration of between US$54 and $57 million to build a new beachfront resort. Transat says its new hotel division will include some 5,000 owned or managed hotel rooms at its main Sun destinations by 2024.
There was more hotel news from Hilton and Playa, with the introduction of Hilton La Romana, an All-inclusive Resort, and Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-inclusive Resort, adding 1,269 new Hilton guest rooms to its existing global portfolio as part of a strategic alliance. In September 2018 Playa took over management of the resort currently known as Dreams La Romana (rebranded as the Hilton La Romana) while The Royal Playa del Carmen became Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-inclusive Resort. The agreement between Playa Hotels and Hilton also includes the potential for the conversion and management of eight additional resorts by 2025.
And in other news, Sandals Resorts released new details about its ground-breaking Tobago development, saying it planned to build a Sandals Resort and a Beaches Resort side by side, with close to 300 rooms and 450-500 rooms respectively.
This was the comeback year for destinations like Puerto Rico, Dominica, Anguilla and St. Maarten, all of which took a hit from 2017’s hurricanes. Sunwing Travel Group’s newest Planet Hollywood resort is taking shape on the site of the former Sonesta Great Bay, which had closed after Irma hit the island in September 2017. Meanwhile AMResorts is bringing a new Secrets resort to St. Martin, on the site of the former Riu Palace St. Martin. A $20 million renovation will get the place in shape in time for its 2019 reopening.
According to CLIA’s latest stats, some 30 million passengers are expected to cruise in 2019, up from 28.2 million in 2018. Close to 20 new ships will debut in 2019, bringing the number of CLIA-member ship to 272. Revenues are up, yields are up and interest in cruising continues unabated, especially thanks for headline-grabbing newcomers like Symphony of the Seas (March 2018), Norwegian Bliss (May 2018) and Celebrity Edge. Sales for river cruising, despite difficulties with low water levels in Europe in 2018, are still through the roof. And all eyes are on the first of Virgin Voyages’ four new ships, Scarlet Lady, getting ready to set sail, and set new benchmarks for adults-only cruising, in 2020.
Several new luxury hotels are slated to open this year.
The principal hotel chains that operate in Mexico are planning to open 352 new properties between this year and 2022, according to an analysis by the real estate firm CBRE.
City Express Hotels, which mainly targets business travelers, will lead the way by opening 80 new properties over the next three years.
“We see a challenging economic outlook but we’re maintaining the positive idea of continuing to position ourselves in the center of cities . . .” the company’s director of innovation, José Luis Carrete, told the newspaper El Financiero.
AM Resorts plans to open 66 new hotels in the same period while Grupo Posadas will open 48 with a 30-billion-peso (US $1.5-billion) investment.
Marriott, the NH Group, Hoteles Misión and the Intercontinental Hotels Groups have, in that order, the next most ambitious plans. The four chains will collectively open around 150 new hotels over the next three years.
The CBRE study was based on information publicly disclosed by the hotel chains but some analysts believe that plans could change due to the cancellation of the new Mexico City International Airport and the elimination of the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM).
Nevertheless, the Mexican Hotel and Motel Association (AMHM) is forecasting that the number of luxury hotels in Mexico will increase by 5% in 2019, three points above the figure recorded in the past three years.
At least half of the new luxury hotels that open in Mexico this year will be time-share properties or vacation clubs, according to Juan Ignacio Rodríguez, the executive director in Latin America of timeshare vacation exchange network RCI.
Among the hotels that will open in 2019 are Paradisus Playa Mujeres and Now Natura Riviera Cancún in Quintana Roo, Nobu Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel, both in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, and Conrad Playa Mita in Nayarit.
Jim Dobson - Forbes Magazine.
Following the devastating effects from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 that heavily damaged 30% of the islands in the Caribbean, there is a remarkable comeback underway. Many previously affected properties have now opened and a large slate of new developments and resorts are planned to launch in 2019 and 2020. I spoke with several travel experts in the Caribbean and they are enthused about the increase in remodeled, refurbished and brand new resorts opening in the coming years.
“It’s an exciting time in the Caribbean, which is seeing tremendous growth in its new hotel pipeline. That’s particularly on islands like Dominica, which is experiencing a full-fledged renaissance,” said Alexander Britell, publisher and editor of my favorite island website Caribbean Journal. "The region is welcoming a remarkably diverse collection of hotels and resorts this year, from luxury small-island boutiques to gleaming new all-inclusives."
Patricia Affonso Das, President of Caribbean Hotel and Tourism, tells me, "We got a peek into the future as over 5,000 new hotels rooms came online regionally in 2018 with over 25,000 more in the construction and planning stages. Existing hotels continue to invest in refurbishments and introducing new services and amenities. We witnessed an unprecedented surge in new airlift into the region, presenting more opportunities to entice travelers to our shores. Investor and government confidence in Caribbean tourism’s future was further buoyed as hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on upgraded and expanded airport facilities.
I spoke with former CHTA President and famed St. Lucia hotelier Karolin Troubetzkoy and she says, "A lot of new development took place in the Dominican Republic. Personally, I am excited about Silversands Grenada which only just opened. I definitely want to go to Dominica with Secret Bay reopened, as well as the Kempinski Cabrits and Jungle Bay. All in all, I am excited as we see a great mixture of new properties opening, from small boutiques, luxury chains, to more commercial but exciting all-inclusive brands."
Frank Comito, Director General, and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association tells me "Much of the growth is occurring at the luxury end. We are seeing a number of destinations stepping up with new and upgraded properties in 2018 with more planned for 2019. Destinations like Antigua, Cayman Islands, Grenada, St. Kitts, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos and have opened new luxury properties.
The Dominican Republic and the Mexican Caribbean are now seeing the results of a deliberate thrust several years ago to attract luxury resort investments, taking all-inclusive resorts to a new level, with AMResorts leading the way. Sandals Resorts has upgraded several of its properties in the region and Jamaica is seeing new high-end investments. The Cays along Belize are also witnessing significant investments."
Here are the Top 10 new properties we are most excited about as well as many more on the pipeline to open in 2019 and beyond.
Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski / Dominica
One of the most talked about launches set to open late 2019, the new Kempinski will be located outside Portsmouth on the northern tip of the island and will have 160 rooms, and a spa. The luxurious tropical destination is surrounded by the Cabrits National Park in Dominica, home to 365 rivers, waterfalls and hot springs. Its four room categories include Junior Suites, Bays Suites, Executive Suites and a Presidential Villa, which will have two bedrooms, indoor/outdoor living spaces, kitchen, private pool, and a private spa treatment room.
Secrets / St Martin
Set at the former Riu Palace in Anse Marcel that was damaged in the hurricane, the new AMResorts project will be a huge addition to the island with an adults-only, 350-room resort located on one of the best beaches in St Martin and will include swim out suites and what is claimed to be the largest swimming pool in the Caribbean.
O: LV Fifty Five / Puerto Rico
This new addition to San Juan’s hopping Condado district opened at the end of December, the 26 suite luxurious hotel is inspired by local designers and artists. Most suites have views of the Condado Lagoon and the property includes two restaurants and a two-level rooftop infinity pool with solarium and jacuzzi.
Hodges Bay / Antigua
This new hotel recently opened its doors and is located on Antigua’s stunning northern coast, with a mix of 79 rooms that range from three bedroom villas to oceanfront suites. The resort has four restaurants, a swim-up bar, infinity pool, and a rooftop bar.
Silversands / Grenada
Recently opened, Grenada’s Silversands Boutique Hotel has 39 suites, three one-bedroom suites, and a 2,000 sq.ft penthouse. There are also nine villas as well as 4,400 sf beachfront villas on Grand Anse Beach. There are also four hillside villas with views over the entire resort and sea. A 339-foot infinity pool, spa, and beach club round out an amazing new destination.
S Hotel Jamaica / Jamaica
Scheduled to open January 2019, this 120 room hotel with spa overlooking Doctor's Cave Beach will become a buzzy new entry on Montego Bay. The beachfront property will quickly become one of the hottest spots in the area and will feature cool Sky Club suites and Signature Spa suites with oversized soaking tubs. The dramatic Sky Bar Lounge with lounge beds and a glass-enclosed infinity pool will be one of the exclusive highlights for guests.
The Liming / Bequia
This intimate luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of the Grenadines on the tiny 6,000 resident island. With only 9 villas and a Junior suite with private pools or hot tubs, the property also features the separate Gingerlily Mansion House with five bedrooms for extended families. The seafront terraced restaurant overlooks the properties purpose-built yacht marina. There are also residences for sale including 39 one and two bedroom Beach Cottages, 6 Beach Villas and a few four or five-bedroom Ridge and Ridge Top Villas.
Jungle Bay, Dominica
The legendary Jungle Bay was rebuilt and is rebranded as the Jungle Bay Eco Villas on Morne Acouma overlooking a marine reserve, and is now a 60 villa wellness boutique resort with residences. With a planned opening for Summer 2019, the property also offers adventure fitness bootcamps and yoga retreats all within a rustic, luxurious environment.
Club Med Miches, Dominican Republic
The new “5-Trident” Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda, set on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic is the largest Caribbean project for Club Med in 40 years, with a planned debut in December 2019. The all-inclusive eco-chic resort offers up four boutique villages with themes of romance, adventure, and wellness all offering their own specialized environments and activities.
Anichi Resort and Spa / Dominica
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection this new hotel in Portsmouth is located on Picard Beach and will have 128 rooms, including suites with private plunge pools, along with a spa, all set on a 12-acre site. It’s slated to launch in December 2019.
Mandarin Oriental / Grand Cayman
This luxury resort and residences is scheduled to open in 2021. The 100-room beachfront resort with 89 branded Residences at Mandarin Oriental will occupy 67 acres at St. James Point, With is own secluded beach all rooms and suites will overlook the sea.
Andaz / Turks & Caicos
This new hotel and residence development will open in 2021 and will be the Andaz brand’s first property in the Caribbean. The new hotel will be positioned on five acres at the western end of Grace Bay Beach.
SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado / Cuba
Accor Hotels will open this new property in 2020. The 10 floor Havana hotel will be located at the intersection of Paseo de Marti and Malecón in the heart of the city. Offering 250 guestrooms, including 36 suites, a spa and rooftop bar will host international DJs and artists.
Rock House / Turks & Caicos
The resort opening in 2020, is developed by Grace Bay Resorts and located on the north coast of Providenciales featuring 41 cottages and four hillside homes with a dramatic 100-foot-long pool perched on a 25-foot limestone cliff.
Muthu Imperial Cayo Guillermo / Cuba
This 500-room all-inclusive adults-only hotel opening in 2019 is located on Cayo Guillermo beach and will feature five restaurants, three bars, a spa and a small shopping center with shops.
Planet Hollywood / St. Maarten
Taking over the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort in Sint Maarten, the property will reopen in 2021 under the Planet Hollywood banner. Located in Great Bay, the resort will include 450 rooms, five restaurants, a casino, a beach club, and a spa.
Itz’ana Resort & Residences / Belize
This highly-anticipated eco-resort offers residences and hotel located in the beach town of Placencia and will open in 2019. The property is ideally located in Placencia with a 15-slip marina, solar-powered cottages, and a stunning beachfront.
According to Cruise Industry News 2019 will be a record year of new-builds, new cruise brands, expedition ships and capacity growth while dry-docks will grow in scale.
Also impressive will be technology gains, with guests benefiting from the latest connectivity and apps that integrate into the cruise experience while cruise lines continue an arms race to save fuel and reduce their environmental footprint. Among challenge areas are new shipbuilders and emerging markets.
Twenty-four new ships will debut in 2019, making it the biggest year ever for new ship introductions.
The Mein Schiff 2 from TUI Cruises will be the first of the 24 new ships delivered, according to projections from the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
The biggest vessel to enter service this year will be the Costa Smeralda with capacity for 5,224 passengers.
MSC's Grandiosa, a Meraviglia-plus class ship, is also large, and will debut in November with capacity for just under 5,000 guests.
The smallest ship debuting? The 100-guest Magellan Explorer from Antarctica21.
MSC is one of four cruise lines with big ship introduction plans in 2019, with the Grandiosa debuting as well as the Bellissima.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will also take delivery of two expedition newbuilds, the Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration.
French luxury line Ponant will get a pair of 180-guest Explorer-class ships, and Costa will take delivery of two megaships.
The Costa Venezia debuts in March from Fincantieri and moves to China for year-round service, while the Smeralda will debut later in the year and sail in Europe.
Brands are coming into the cruise industry with newbuild projects and secondhand ships.
Jalesh Cruises will start service in April from Mumbai, offering a short-cruise product for the Indian source market.
In China, CTS (China Travel Service) is expected to start service in the third quarter, which will help boost capacity in the region, which is considerably lower, according to the 2019 China Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Heading into the future, both The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Virgin Voyages are bringing their new brands and bold new concepts and their brands into the industry with newbuild projects.
New ships on order and set to be delivered in 2019 represent an additional 42,488 berths into the industry, obliterating 2018’s record introduction of approximately 34,000 new berths.
According to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, the 42,488 berths represent 7.5 percent additional berths across the industry.
The companies with the biggest plans to fill cabins this year are both European brands. MSC will add 9,388 berths between the Bellissima and Grandiosa, while Costa will add 9,120 berths with the Costa Venezia and Smeralda.
Drydocks Grow in Scale
Refurbishment projects across the industry are only growing in scale, according to the 2019 Drydocking and Refurbishment Report by Cruise Industry News.
The biggest project this year, and the biggest drydock ever to take place, will see the Carnival Triumph converted into the Carnival Sunrise over a two-month work period in Cadiz with a budget of $200 million. The ship will debut in Norfolk, Virginia in late April with additional capacity, and a number of new entertainment and food and beverage features.
Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas will be reimagined with a budget of $115 million and then reintroduced into the hot short cruise market in May 2019.
The newbuild boom in the expedition market that saw the first of a large number of new ships launching in 2018 shows no signs of slowing down for 2019.
Expedition newbuilds are all over the orderbook this year, with 12 expedition ships set to launch into service.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has the single biggest year, with 460 berths coming online with the Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration.
Ponant will mark its second year in a row in which it takes delivery of two ships as well, with the new Le Bougainville being joined by Le Dumont-d'Urville.
The most notable delivery will happen in China, as SunStone will welcome the first of up to 10 expedition newbuilds. The Greg Mortimer will debut in August on a long-term charter contract to Aurora Expeditions.
China was set to become the world’s largest cruise market, and may still get there, but 2019 will be about the so-called readjustment period in the region.
Too much supply brought on too fast, a challenged distribution model (chartering), a short-in booking window and lack of product differentiation put a stop to runaway growth in China.
A readjustment period is now the term, and will give Chinese officials time to work on policies and port development; it will also give way to another new Chinese cruise brand coming late this year.
China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) will buy two cruise ships ahead of building a series new ships.
The company will take delivery of the Costa Atlantica in late 2019, followed by the Costa Mediterranea a year later.
Delayed deliveries, strikes, ownership changes and other major questions revolve around a new set of shipyards that have aggressively entered the cruise business in recent years.
Facing a collapse in the offshore business, shipyards turned to small, expedition and niche cruise lines to gain business back.
Those yards have been met with a host of challenges ranging from ownership changes to yard strikes as they have found out that building a cruise ship is a highly complex task – mainly attributed to the customized hotel aspect of the project.
While Princess Cruises continues to roll out its Ocean Medallion platform, the cruise lines are working hard to upgrade connectivity and provide new apps and digital experiences for passengers.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is utilizing facial recognition to get passengers onboard the ship within 10 minutes of arriving at the terminal; while on the new Celebrity Edge, guests can use an app to turn on and off stateroom lights and even unlock the door.
At MSC Cruises, a personal assistant, Zoe, will debut in every stateroom aboard the Bellissima when the ship is delivered in February.
Passenger-facing apps and connectivity solutions will continue to be hot topics, but behind-the-scenes, a technical arms race will continue to save fuel while lowering environmental impact when it comes to air and water emissions.
Kayak announced that Tahiti was the number one beach vacation based on a 55% increase in the number of searches for the destination compared to the previous 12 months.
The data was collected from searches made between October 25 2017 and October 24 2018 with travel dates from March 1 2018 through February 28 2019.
Bali was the number two beach vacation, up 49%, with the Turks and Caicos Islands up 37%.
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Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.