The scenic Charles Fort at Needham’s Point was the venue on Thursday evening as Barbados was recognized by the international travel search engine Expedia for its tourism performance.
The company’s Director of Market Management Demetrius Canton hosted a special celebration in recognition of the island’s climb back to number one in the region on its booking charts.
Expedia recognizes one destination every year and the island has been named ‘Destination of the Year for 2015’.
Canton said the popular travel booking agent saw “really phenomenal growth from the destination”, adding that the momentum from last year has carried into the first quarter of 2016 making Barbados one of the best and most popular vacation markets.
“We had Zika, the [US] stock market crash in early January, a lot macro-economic issues affecting travel, yet Barbados continued to perform at a very high rate, and I would tell you, Barbados is outperforming the rest of the region,” the Expedia official said.
He revealed that in 2015, room nights grew 34 per cent, and revenue by 36 per cent.
“That represented US$17 million that the hotels generated from Expedia business.”
For the period January to March 2016, Expedia’s net room nights in Barbados grew 28 per cent and its revenue by 37 per cent.
The main sources of this growth for Expedia and its feeder markets during the first quarter were United States, 34 per cent; United Kingdom, 35 per cent; and Canada 31 per cent.
Canton said there were also positive performances from Germany, France, Brazil, and Columbia as he credited the Barbados Tourism Management Inc. (BTMI) for “the increment of airlift that the destination has”, while noting, “Every destination in the Caribbean is looking for more lift.”
With over 50,000 additional airline seats due to be added in 2016, he said “Expedia has been able to capitalize through our package path to drive some of these growth numbers.
“Prices are great on flights to Barbados now, and I think we are on a big upswing for the destination.”
A beaming BTMI CEO William “Billy” Griffith also addressed the gathering of tourism stakeholders.
He assured that efforts were being made to ensure that Barbados stays in the top ranking and that it can outdo its sister Caribbean destinations.
“We will strive to increase the number of rooms that we have on the island, try to make sure that we satisfy the product expectations of your customers in Expedia.
“Thirty per cent up every year, that’s what we want. Caribbean Destination Of The Year, that’s what we want,” he added.