Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) president Sunil Chatrani is not entirely flattered by recent long-stay tourist arrival figures, suggesting pertinent data that could be of benefit to hotel operators was missing.
Last week, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) officials reported that between January and March, the island had recorded a total of 171,471 long stay arrivals, a 15.1 per cent increase over the corresponding period for last year and the highest first quarter increase on record in 25 years.
The average length of time on the island per long stay visitor was not given, except for majority of the 217,139 cruise visitors for the period under review who had an average stay of between seven and 10 days.
The average tourist spend also was not given.
Delivering his report at the BHTA’s annual general meeting yesterday, Chatrani said while he agreed the numbers were up, the information did not go far enough.
“We are all sitting here today and querying the arrival statistics that are being reported. I think that we can all agree that the numbers are better but to what extent, it is questionable. This confusion only exists because of the lack of information. The more useful data are room nights and rates,” said Chatrani.
“The constitutional change requires us to register with STR (Smith Travel Research) and provide relevant data that will allow us to get more meaningful information,” the BHTA president pointed out. “It was agreed that the BHTA Tourism Fund would pay the subscriptions dues for the first year for all hotels so that we can see the benefit of this reporting.”
Chatrani went on: “If we had this type of information at hand today, we would know the level of increased room nights and overall achieved room. We would not be here questioning numbers”.
He said the BHTA was in the final stages of negotiating a contract with STR, a global provider of information services, research and competitive benchmarking to the hotel industry. This, he added, would make the BHTA the first association to register its entire membership.
“Remember, the more data we have the more useful the information becomes,” said Chatrani.
“With the increased demand that we are now experiencing and improvement in the quality of our room stock, we should see improved rates across the board. But until we start measuring data properly, we will continue to guess how we are doing and will never optimize our true potential,” he said.