Worldwide, tourism continues
to perform resiliently in the face
of continued economic global
uncertainty, as too does the
However, a former chairman of
the Board of Tourism has expressed
concern that the same cannot be said
for Barbados, expected to record a
five per cent drop in visitor arrivals
when the numbers are tallied.
Hotelier Ralph Taylor, addressing
the Barbados Labour Party-sponsored, inaugural
People’s Assembly at the Frederick Smith
Secondary School, noted that in 2012, the
Caribbean welcomed the highest number of
tourists it had ever seen –– nearly 25 million
tourists, the highest number the Caribbean had
ever welcomed. This, he revealed was a 5.4 per
cent increase over the numbers recorded
“This rate of growth out-passed the rest of
the world which had only seen a four per cent
increase. Barbados feared slightly worse with a
five per cent drop in tourism arrivals in 2012 .
. . . It has become increasingly obvious to more
and more Barbadians that tourism is the quickest
and possibly the only avenue to take the country
out if the current economic decline and on a
path to sustainability,” he said, noting that the
country required only about 572,000 visitors to
the island to ensure that the tourism sector was
“When you look at other destinations around
the world, that is a small [number], of people and
if we do a good job we can get all of those longstay
visitors. We can get [those visitors] from the
world market. In my tenure as chairman of the
Tourist Board, we focused on the world market
because we recognize that a number of the
existing markets that we were drawing our pool
from were under tremendous stress.
“The US was in turmoil, the UK had significant
problems. Canada was the best of the lot because
the economy had performed quite well during
the recessionary period. We recognized that
areas [like] South America had recovered from
its disastrous, economic period just before the
recession and when it was hitting these markets
were doing. We put a programme in place to get
people from areas,” Taylor told the audience.
He noted that there were several other
Caribbean destinations that did a similar thing,
like Aruba, that saw real return, and, in this
regard, Barbados also “reopened” the European
market with specific efforts in Germany, since
this was one of the first European countries to
recover from the recession.
“This strategy of looking for where you can
get people to meet our numbers and give the
foreign exchange we want should have been
sustained,” Taylor lamented.
Another area of concern for the former
chairman, related to the build-out of the hotel
plant. Drawing comparisons between the
Barbados scenario and three other Caribbean
countries, he revealed that in 1980, Jamaica had
10,000 hotels rooms while in 2014, that number
rose to 30,000.
“In 1980 Cuba had 7,226 hotel rooms and
today they have 57,000. St Lucia had 1,245
hotel rooms in 1980, today they have 4,900
rooms. Barbados in 1980 we had 6,680 hotel
rooms. Today we have 5,400 hotels rooms. The
average growth in these countries between 1980
and today is 486 per cent compared to a decline
in Barbados of 20 per cent.
“And therein lies one of our major challenges.
We were not and are not still getting new hotel
development and we must ask ourselves why.
The reality is that investors are looking for
adequate returns on capita and then all other
factors are considered. It is clear that our returns
are not wooing the investors,” Taylor said. (RG)