A prominent hotel executive is expressing concern that increased tourism arrival numbers were not being reflected in the luxury segment of the market.
Outgoing Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Sunil Chatrani said while Barbados welcomed a record number of visitor last year, the more lucrative luxury market was lagging.
“The challenge now is to increase the arrivals numbers to the luxury segment and to improve the spend that will generate more foreign currency to build on the foreign reserves of this economy,” Chatrani told the BHTA Annual General Meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.
The Elegant Hotels Group Chief Executive Officer called for an aggressive plan to attract more high-end visitors, with the recently-established Barbados Tourism Product Authority playing a leading role in providing an enabling environment.
“One of my great concerns as I demit office is the performance of the luxury end of the market. While its inventory as it presently stands represents less than 20 per cent of the industry, its revenue accounts for probably 75 per cent of tourism earnings. its employment levels are twice as high as the lower categories, so it is an important niche that cannot be wished away,” he said.
Chatrani called for the BHTA to have a greater say in the development of national marketing initiatives, recommending “a more formal and structured” arrangement between hoteliers and the state agencies responsible for the development and marketing of tourism here.
“A more formal and structured relationship needs to be instituted where the Ministry of Tourism & International Transport, the BTMI [Barbados Tourism Management Inc] and BHTA can sit at the table together and discuss and strategize on new marketing plans and other challenges facing the industry. We need to marry capacity and capability of plant to marketing programmes in order to ensure that we get the best bang for our buck”.
He also suggested that the BHTA-administered Tourism Fund, coupled with the funding under the Tourism Development Corporation, be merged with the BTMI’s budget “to execute key programmes which are mutually beneficial to all constituents”.