by Emmanuel Joseph
A rising number of Barbadians is spending their vacations in hotels at home.
Investigations by Barbados TODAY this afternoon revealed a growing trend by locals to keep the precious Barbados foreign exchange in their pockets and invest it instead, in the current staycation programme, which most hotels in the island are part of.
“People used to things that the staycation was only for the low season, but now that they realise the staycation is all year round, more and more people are spending their holidays in hotels here,” an official of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association informed this newspaper.
The BHTA source also reported a trend, where Barbadians were no longer cooking at Christmas,” but preferred to spend the period in a hotel room.”
“Lots of people are doing staycations. A lot of people who would travel are finding that the air fares are too high and tended to stay home. There are also a number of properties offering specials such as the Waves and the Crane,” the tourism association official noted.
The industry stakeholder also revealed that the upward trend in staycations was resulting in an annual average revenue of some $2 million for those members of the BHTA that reported their figures.
However, the source pointed out, that if all the other hotels submitted their information, the revenue would be significantly higher.
The official said the staycation programme was critical to the survival of the industry, since it made efforts to keep Barbadians employed, a much easier task.
Former President of the BHTA Alvin Jemmott, who was the brain behind staycations, told this newspaper that he was also seeing an upward trend in locals enjoying their holidays in hotels at home.
“Everybody’s watching their dollar and during an economic crunch, domestic travel grows. Air fares are always a factor. Another reason why people are staying home, is that, for example, if a person wanted to spend just a weekend in Miami, the extraordinary levels of security would tend to deter them … you got to take off your shoes, your belt, almost undress, just for a weekend,” observed Jemmott, who is General Manager of Divi Southwinds.
In promoting the virtues of staycation for the economic benefits of Barbados, the veteran hotelier said, for instance, it would help citizens come in contact with the tourism product and stop the repatriation of foreign exchange through travel.
“By doing this, we can look at our health care and manufacturing and also help in the off peak period,” added the stakeholder.
As far as the winter was concerned, the former Hotel and Tourism Association leader, said the country was on the verge of an active season.
Jemmott disclosed that two new charters were scheduled to arrive here every Thursday from Scandanavia with an average 290 passengers per week.
“The TUI Nordic will be coming. One flight is coming from Stockholm and the other from Helsinki. The visitors will be staying for seven days and 14 days respectively. This is good for Barbados, because it gives them more time to explore the island and spend more,” he suggested.
One charter flight came last year, the hotelier added.
Jemmott said his hotel bookings were in the high 70s and 80s which was normal for him. †However, he added, that Old Year’s Night and the first two days in January were over sold.
“One of my concerns though, is that when we see this prosperity, we take our foot off the gas. What I will be doing in the future is working way ahead to get my hotel full. †I’m already on my sales manager’s case to look at April, May and June,” he concluded. [email protected]