Saint Lucia has recorded record visitor numbers in 2017 and the highest growth of all Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) members.

The 11% increase in arrivals led to the island receiving more than 1.1 million visitors last year.

The cruise sector in St Lucia saw a 14% increase despite the eight-month closure of the Pointe Seraphine Berth 1.

Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee said: “The tourism industry continues to be an incredibly important and vital part of the Saint Lucian economy. We are happy with the levels of growth witnessed and as we continue our marketing efforts, we are also looking to maximize the impact of tourism on our economy”.

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority says it worked closely with the CTO and trade partners to overcome challenges such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, to communicate the ‘open for business’ message.

The Saint Lucia Tourist Board was restructured to a more business oriented and results driven organization in 2017.

Executive chair Agnes Francis said: “We focused our resources this past year in transitioning to a more agile tourism organisation. We completely refreshed our Soleil festival events programme and we celebrated the opening of three major resorts. We continue to welcome a broad range of visitors each year from honeymooning couples to families and people seeking both adventure and relaxation. This trend for seeking diverse experiences on holiday continued to grow in 2017.”

Arrivals from the UK – one of St Lucia’s top three source markets – rose 12.5%, with honeymoons, weddings and family holidays the main reasons for travelling.

In 2017, three new hotels opened; Royalton Resorts added 456 rooms in February; Serenity at Coconut Bay with 36 rooms in May and The Harbor Club with 115 rooms in December. A new weekly Tui flight from London started in May.