Barbados earned more from tourism between July and September this year, when compared to the same period last year, despite the fact that on average each visitor to the island is spending less.
A release Wednesday from the island’s marketing agency, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) quoted the quarterly exit survey conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization as revealing a 2.6 per cent increase in visitor spend during the third quarter of 2016.
However, it pointed out that on average, each visitor spent US$1.50 less this year than the same period last year, down 1.1 per cent to US$131.22 per person.
It attributed the increase in earnings to the overall rise in arrivals.
“While the average daily spend showed a slight decrease, the average length of stay remained constant at approximately ten days. There was also a 6.2 per cent increase in long-stay arrivals which compensated for the decline in average daily spend and resulted in an increase in total visitor spend,” the release said.
Overall, the country earned US$182 million during the quarter, up from US$177.527 million between July and September last year, contributing to a healthy increase for the first nine months of the year.
“Total visitor expenditure grew from US$678.736 million to US$735.441 million during the January to September 2016 period. This is a significant increase of 8.4 per cent more spend when compared to the 2015 period,” the BTMI released quoted Chairman Alvin Jemmott as saying.
“Based on the statistics, we can comfortably look forward to a strong winter performance as these numbers indicate a positive visitor spend trend and we will remain dedicated to ensuring we continue on this track and increase economic growth,” he added.
Barbados’ primary market, the United Kingdom, recorded growth of 9.5 per cent during the survey period, the release stated, stressing this was so despite the Brexit vote in June.
Both the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association and the duty-free sector have reported a fall in spend by British visitors following the vote, due to the slide in value of the pound.
Visitors from Canada (5.2 per cent) and the Caribbean (9.6 per cent) also spent more while here, although BTMI did not reveal the total earnings.
It added that visitors from the United States spent US$48 million whilst on island during the third quarter, with Europe at US$8 million. A combination of other countries, including those from the non-English speaking Caribbean, Latin America, Asia and Africa spent US$6 million.
These markets recorded declines in spend, BTMI said, but they “still contributed generously to the total overall expenditure”.
According to the survey, nearly half of the money spent by visitors here (46 per cent) was on accommodation, which showed a decline of 18.4 per cent when compared to 2015.
The US-based market research company STR Inc, which tracks hotel performances, has reported that despite being on target for record arrivals this year, the Caribbean accommodation sector is registering declines in room occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room, blaming the slump in part on the sharing economy.
The BTMI release also said 25.2 per cent of visitor spend was on meals and drinks outside of accommodation, while transportation and entertainment/recreation both recorded increases of 8.7 per cent and 5.6 per cent respectively. Souvenirs and shopping also showed small increases, it stated.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy announced last week long-stay arrivals were expected to surpass last year’s record of about 592,000 visitors to the island.