The Barbados economy is in for a major boost later this month when a major sport event is held over a nine-day period.
The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series 2015, which will be held from January 16 to 24, is expected to attract at least 50 boats with over 500 participants, resulting in millions of dollars being spent over the few days.
Speaking to reporters during a media briefing on the state and the outlook of the tourism industry yesterday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, consultant to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) sailing promotions Peter Gilkes said the event would be a significant boost to the island’s tourism product.
So far 31 entries have been confirmed with about 325 competitors, who are expected to arrive with families and fans.
The event is in its fifth year and is organized by the Barbados Cruising Club in association with BTMI and Mount Gay Rum Distilleries Limited. After a break the race resumed in 2010 and in 2014 it was the first time it extended past two days.
“We expect at the end of the signing for the Round Barbados Race we will have between 50 to 55 boats and you can average each boat carrying a minimum crew of about ten people. We have a yacht that is 55 metres that is coming in and she will sail with about 70 or 80 people on board,” reported Gilkes.
“Based on the event that we had in 2013 where we hosted the 505 Worlds with about 400 competitors and sponsorship in Barbados, we estimate that coming out of the 505 Worlds –– they did island tour and eat at restaurants every night, the hotel bill for one of them amounted to $290,000. We estimated that they spent between $4 million and $4.5 million during that event in Barbados, and this is just the competitors. We are dealing with high-end people in the yachting,” he said.
“I can’t put a figure on it today but I will tell you that when you see the folk in circulation over the next couple of weeks you will get an idea because there will be some shopping going on, and they will certainly be spending significant amount of money in Barbados,” he added.
Other boat racing events scheduled for the island are the GP14 World Championships in 2016, which should attract at least 500 people and about 100 boats over a 3.5 week period.
There are also two Finn World Masters Championships scheduled for Barbados in 2017. These events, which are planned two to four years in advance, are expected to attract at least 600 participants with 200 boats over a three-weeks period.
Gilkes said while the dates have not yet been set for the 2016 and 2017 events, the latter would be held between April and May because “we determine the winds are still good and it is outside of the high tourist season so we can put people in hotel rooms”.