A growing number of tourists visiting Barbados are turning their backs on hotels, opting to stay at villas, condos, apartments and friends. That’s the main finding of new research conducted by a special local Tourism Working Group whose members include the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.
Hoteliers and other BHTA members were officially notified of the trend yesterday by TWG Chairman, Ronnie Griffith, and Central Bank of Barbados economist Andre Burgess. “Vacationers are moving away from hotel accommodations towards villas, apartments, guest houses and friends/relatives… while in Barbados. Tourists visiting for the purpose of vacation (and) business exhibited similar trends,” the research paper found.
“Although visitors staying for honeymoons and weddings still preferred hotels, from 85 per cent in 2004 to 83 per cent in 2011, during the review period, there was a two per cent increase for villa (and) apartment accommodations.”
“Business tourists staying at hotels remained flat despite an increase with other hotels and a decrease in all inclusive, as well as for guests houses, visiting friend or relative and other,” it added.
But the researchers partly attributed the decline in villa and apartment accommodations and all-inclusive hotels “to the business tourist preference for the hotels because of the appropriate facilities for conference meetings, superior information and communication technologies, and to escape visitors staying for leisure, honeymooners etcetera”, noting that those in for meetings illustrated similar trends.
The paper also found that while in the last 15 to 20 years only nine hotels were converted to condominiums, this form of accommodation and villas now constituted more than half of the overall hotel room stock.
“In 2011, there were ever 2,500 villa (and) condominium rooms compared to less than 5,000 hotel rooms. This increase in the number of villa (and) condominium rooms could be partly attributed to an increased number of repeat visitors opting for this type of accommodation or developers taking advantage of the ease in property rates in 2007,” the report stated.
“The decline in hotel room stock could be a result of some hotels closing for renovations or closed.”
With this changing accommodation demographic, the TWG research team suggested that “advertising and campaigning by tourist boards and the rental accommodation sector need to be more centralised”, and that “available room stock and accommodation type should be readily available to satisfy business or leisure tourist requirements”.
They also noted that the progressive movement from hotels to villas, condos, apartments and friends, was also prevalent in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago and North America. (SC)