The slow pace of doing business in Barbados has been identified as a major contributor to the island’s slide in tourism competitiveness.
Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers said while the hotel sector had witnessed an overall decline in costs for the 2016 period, which the latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report examined, she agreed there were some areas that needed improvement.
The recently released report, which is published by the World Economic Forum’s Industry Community for Aviation, Travel and Tourism, put Barbados at 58 out of a total of 136 destinations, with an average score of 3.91.
This represents a slide in the island’s ranking from 46 out of 141 countries in the 2015 report, with a score of 4.1 out of 7.
The report examined a range of categories including enabling environment, policy, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources.
Specific areas included international openness, price competitiveness, business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, human resources and labour market, and information and communication technology (ICT) readiness.
The 370-page document ranked Barbados at 134th for price competitiveness, 123rd for cultural resources and business travel and 118th for natural resources.
“We know that we are not gifted with speed at licensing, at regulations and incentives, and it has really killed our competitiveness and we have to face up to it,” Myers told journalists at the first of a series of news conferences the BHTA has scheduled to give updates on the industry.
However, looking specifically at the price competitiveness aspect of the report, she contended that it did not take into consideration all levels of hotel pricing.
“They only used top tier hotels. When you look at this data, you really have to get behind the numbers or you don’t know what they are saying. But that hotel pricing actually showed that the average price for the hotels that they used dropped . . . .The other areas didn’t fare so well and that is why the price competitiveness indicator actually was worse for Barbados, but it wasn’t [as a result of] the hotel price,” she explained, insisting that she was “not trying to cover” for the hotel sector.
Notwithstanding, Myers said she agreed with the report that the island could do more in the area of cultural tourism.
She said the BHTA would be strengthening its relationship with the University of the West Indies in order to get help analyzing statistics to assist industry officials in making the necessary tweaks.
“There is no question we can learn from [the report]. It is just that we need to get behind the numbers a little bit more,” Myers said.
“You have to know where your strengths are and we need some help looking at that data and trying to see what are the things the BHTA can do to influence the competitiveness of Barbados as a destination, and what are the things we really have to continue to urge the Government to do with respect to the legislative regime and to improve our overall competitiveness.”