Next year “and beyond” is when Barbadians should expect real growth to return to Barbados economy.
But rather than simply waiting on investment “currently underway or recently completed in increasing capacity in the luxury tourism segment, and enriching the visitor experience” to kick in, the island needs to do more to ensure a recovery in its key tourism and international business sectors.
That advice came today from Central Bank of Barbados Governor, Dr. DeLisle Worrell as he reported the Barbados economy declined by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of this year.
“More investment is needed, covering specialist niches such as eco, sports and cultural tourism, as well as to cater for the more discriminating middle income visitor, who values the distinctive Barbadian experience,” the economist suggested.
“Also, more investment is needed in marketing International Business and Financial Services, and increasing capacity in agro-processing and alternative energy.
“Efforts must be redoubled to remove barriers to Barbados’ competitiveness, the most damaging of which are inefficiency of Government bureaucracy, insufficient financing for new ventures, and poor work attitudes in the workforce,” he stated.
Worrell’s concerns about tourism were likely based on the industry’s first quarter performance when “real tourism output declined by an estimated two per cent for the first three months of 2013, reflecting a nine per cent decline in total long-stay visitor arrivals up to the end of February”.
“Arrivals from the USA and Canadian markets fell by 13 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. A softening of demand in these markets contributed to the loss of flights originating from Dallas and reduced seating capacity out of Toronto. Persistent weak economic growth in the UK and the recent increases in the air passenger duty continue to negatively impact visitor arrivals from the UK, which fell four per cent by the end of February,” he said in the first quarter economic review.
“The discontinuation of REDjet flights and the hosting of the T-20 cricket finale in St. Lucia, contributed largely to the 32 per cent and 18 per cent respective declines in arrivals from Trinidad & Tobago and other CARICOM countries. Despite the weak out-turn for the winter season to-date, it is estimated that Barbados’ market share of regional long-stay tourist arrivals did not decline significantly for the first quarter of 2013.
“Cruise passengers were higher by six per cent, buoyed by the docking of some cruise vessels with larger carrying capacity. Even with this out-turn and the estimated improvement in the average length of time long-stay visitors spend on the island, tourism earnings are expected to remain depressed for the first quarter of 2013, given the subdued visitor spending,” Worrell stated. (SC)