Barbados is on target to set a new tourist arrivals record this year, one year after setting a new benchmark.
Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Sue Springer today predicted that the industry would outdo last year’s performance when a record 591,892 tourists visited the island, surpassing the previous record of just over 570,000 tourists set in 2007.
Delivering her final annual report as CEO of the BHTA, Springer, who is due to demit office by the end of this year, said last year’s growth was due to overall global interest in Caribbean travel, diversification of source markets and additional airlift.
She said all the indicators suggested another bumper year for tourism.
“The trend has continued and the provisional figures revealed that arrivals increased 7.4 per cent during the first quarter of 2016 when compared to the previous year,” she told BHTA members gathered at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.
“There has been an active strategy by the Government and the BTMI (Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc) to increase the airlift to Barbados from the various key markets and this has certainly reaped results particularly in the US with arrivals increasing by 13 per cent,” she said.
The hotel official said so far for the year the Canadian market remained relatively flat, registering a 0.8 per cent decline, while arrivals from the UK rose by ten per cent “resulting in increases of arrivals for the 24th consecutive month”.
Continental Europe remained sluggish with a decline of 6.1 per cent, with Germany, the main producing country, down 7.3 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“This hopefully will be reversed with the additional airlift . . . from Munich this coming winter and the reintroduction of a BTMI director for the European market,” Springer said.
The Caribbean continued to be a good source market for Barbados with an increase of 14.3 per cent, she disclosed, led by a 34 per cent increase in arrivals from Trinidad and Tobago.
While arrivals from Brazil are down by nearly 50 per cent, the rest of South and Central America recorded growth, as did the cruise sector.
“The greater part of these visitors stayed in luxury accommodation followed by all-inclusive accommodation. The majority of the cruise stay visitors remained on the island for seven to ten days after completing their cruise, followed by two to three days,” she said.
While remaining bullish about the industry, Springer said there were still concerns, including the possible impact of Zika, the strength of the British and Canadian currencies and the presidential election in the United States.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization has projected that arrivals to the region will break the 30 million mark in 2016, after reporting a 7.3 per cent increase in the first quarter compared to the same period last year.