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International Travel to Sint Maarten Forecasted to Increase by 19%

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Quick Summary

As noted in our recent analysis, 2024 tourism data for Sint Maarten shows that arrivals on island are on the rise, indicative of a strong year ahead. Further to this previous information, a recent report shows that international travel to the Caribbean islands should rise by 10% in the first half of this year. Most importantly, data shows that Sint Maarten-bound arrivals are likely to increase by much more. Here's what that means for St. Maarten vacation rentals, the island's real estate market, and more...


     The Caribbean Travel Trends report for 2024 from Forward Keys notes that international arrivals to the Caribbean indicate a 10% year-over-year increase for the first half of 2024, and an increase of 13% compared to 2019. This is likely driven by a variety of factors including strong exchange rates relative to local Caribbean currencies, growing optionality for flights from various airlines, and of course - the allure of the bright blue water and white sand beaches. 

Direct Flights a Top Driver

     Direct flights to the Caribbean islands is a top driver of growth for tourism in the region. The easier it is for a traveler to get to the island, the more likely it is that they will choose St. Maarten and St. Martin as a destination. The report mentions in the first half of the year, nearly 70% of all arrivals from Canada and the U.S. are anticipated to have flown directly to their Caribbean destination, indicative of a greater number of direct flights to the Caribbean islands versus connecting flights. As we have recently noted, American Airlines is increasing their flights to St. Maarten, as is Winair and more. The increase in direct flight availability is likely to continue for St. Maarten and St. Martin as there are two airports on the island, the largest of which - Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) - is expected to complete its renovations later this year.

Groups of Leisure Travelers Driving Growth

     Not surprisingly, the report noted that groups, whether families or friends, are a major driver of this growth:

“Arrivals of family-sized groups (3-5 passengers) to Caribbean destinations show an increase of +13% year-over-year-year in the first half of 2024. This matches similar growth in solo travelers, and exceeds that of couples, highlighting the importance of the family segment to tourism strategy in the region.” 

     Also not surprisingly, growth in travel to the Caribbean is being largely driven by leisure and vacation travelers versus business-related travel. Leisure-related travel arrivals are notching up by 11% year-over-year in the first half of 2024. In comparison, business travel is showing a mere 3% growth rate over the same six month period, indicating a slower recovery of this segment as virtual meetings remain common post-pandemic.

Luxury Travel Segment Remains Robust

     The report shows that while international airline travel to the region indicates a growth rate of 9% year-over-year in the first six months of 2024, bookings in premium cabins such as first class and business class, are measurably outperforming with a growth rate of nearly 40% compared to the same period last year.

“This demonstrates the enduring strength of luxury travel to the region as high-yield travelers continue to seek out exclusive Caribbean experiences.”

Sint Maarten a Top Destination

     While the aforementioned statistics are promising for the Caribbean as a whole, data pertaining to St. Maarten travel in particular is even more promising. This comes as no surprise to us, as the attraction of beautiful blue waters, immaculate beaches, and the welcoming hospitality of Sint Maarten will always be attractive to travelers from around the world seeking relaxation, excitement, and everything in between.

     Travel to the island is forecasted to grow by 19% in the first half of 2024. This outpaces Puerto Rico (+18%), the U.S. Virgin Islands (+18%), Turks and Caicos (+16%), Barbados (+14%), Dominican Republic (+12%), the Cayman Islands (+11%), Saint Lucia (+11%), Antigua and Barbuda (+9%), Trinidad and Tobago (+7%), the Bahamas (+6%), Cuba (+4%), Martinique (+4%), Jamaica (+2%), Bermuda (Unchanged), and Guadeloupe (-1%).

Impact on St. Maarten Real Estate

First and foremost, it goes without saying that this tourism report is a great forecast of what the rest of 2024 has in store for the island. Many St. Maarten property owners as well as potential buyers and real estate investors are likely wondering how this may impact pricing and listing inventory for condos and villas in Sint Maarten

     Based on over 25 years of experience in St. Maarten's luxury real estate market, we believe that sustained tourism growth at these levels could lead to a rapid increase in property values and property prices in St. Maarten as well as the French side of the island, St. Martin. Not only does increased tourism on island lead to increased demand for secondary home ownership on the island, but it also drives up occupancy rates for hotels and vacation rentals in St. Maarten

     This increase in occupancy allows sellers to command higher asking prices for their properties, and helps buyers justify paying a higher price for a given property thanks to its potential to generate greater income as a rental property. As for inventory, higher demand for vacation rentals may incentivize property owners to hold onto a property that they were otherwise looking to sell.

Impact on St. Maarten Vacation Rentals

     Beyond the immediate impacts of such an increase in tourism travel including higher airfare prices, busier beaches, and fewer tables available at popular restaurants, there is another important factor that should be taken into consideration for those considering or planning an upcoming vacation to St. Maarten and St. Martin. 

     Simply put, book your trip sooner rather than later. The robust increase in tourism creates a highlycorrelated increase in demand for accommodations on the island, and there has not been a correlated increase in supply of accommodations. While new construction of condominiums, villas, and hotels in St. Maarten and St. Martin is on the rise, it has not kept pace with the increase in tourism. This means that the condo or villa you were planning to rent later in 2024 may be booked by other travelers keen on securing their piece of paradise. Alternatively, this may mean that while the condo or villa you were hoping to rent is still available for the dates you anticipate traveling to the island, rates may increase - leading to a more expensive vacation or rather, less travel budget to be allocated to activities and excursions. 

     Lastly, the previously mentioned immediate impacts of higher levels of tourism to St. Maarten and St. Martin such as busier restaurants and beyond highlight the importance of ensuring access to guest services such as concierge, car rentals, and more

Whether you are looking to buy or sell property in Sint Maarten or Saint Martin, or seeking out the right vacation rental for your upcoming trip to the island, do not hesitate to leverage St. Maarten Sotheby's International Realty's decades of expertise and leadership in the local real estate sector. Our team of experienced professionals are best positioned to help you navigate the island's real estate market and assist you with your goals. Contact us today to learn more, and be sure to subscribe to updates below so you never miss an important development on the island.

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Data Shows Sint Maarten Tourism is Booming in 2024

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