After Europe, the Caribbean region attracts the most Americans as visitors. The Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico attract the most stay-over visitors, followed by Bermuda, Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic. (The Dominican Republic is a newcomer on the big-attraction list.) Geographically, Bermuda is too far north to be part of the Caribbean region. Historically and culturally it has much in common with the Caribbean and is included here.
The U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Martinique, and the Dominican Republic have been most selected for cruise stops. Figure 7.2 gives the stay-over and cruise arrival numbers for Caribbean visitors for 1981.
In 1981, the Caribbean region attracted 7.2 million visitors, half of whom were Americans. On some islands 85 percent of the visitors are American.1 The area has about five hundred hotels, of which, says the Caribbean Tourism Association, two hundred thirty have fewer than fifty rooms. The largest chain in the area has grown by default. The Jamaican government has taken over fourteen hotels that were in financial difficulty. The government cannot afford to permit the hotels to close. To fail to do so would force up the number of unemployed. Neither can the government afford to operate them. Under government operation the hotels lost millions of dollars. Employee theft extends to cutting out the carpets underneath the beds. Inefficiencies were rampant. So, where possible, the hotels are leased to chain operators from abroad.