While Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy Wednesday night sounded upbeat about the island’s tourism sector, Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Rosanne Myers cautioned of uncertainty ahead.
The two leaders of Barbados tourism shared their perspectives of the industry at the BHTA’s 65th anniversary celebrations at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, during which past and present members were inducted into the newly established Hall of Fame, while contributors from related industries were recognized for their support for tourism.
Sealy said there was much to “feel good” about, pointing to the number of hotel rooms under construction as a sign of investor confidence in Barbados’ tourism industry.
“Nine hindered rooms [are] under construction so we will move the room stock over 7,000 for the first time in a very long time, and we can continue on that trajectory. It tells me that we have a lot to feel good about,” he said.
“It is a reality that we had more visitors than we had before. The news that our tourism product is so desired that we can still have more people coming to our shores than at any time before is something to feel good about.”
The minister also referenced the latest announcement by the British carrier Virgin Atlantic that it would launch “the world’s first departure beach” on Browne’s Beach next year, where its passengers can relax on the sand, go swimming, “cool off” in an air conditioned lounge and “check in on the beach . . . and get your boarding pass too”.
However, Myers warned “the world is a very uncertain place” and that “from one minute to the other you don’t know what is going to happen”.
Therefore, she advised the BHTA had to remain focused and “we have to make sure that we are strategic in our thinking, in our planning because we are facing some crises all over the world”.
Barbados received over 630,000 long-stay visitors last year, and tourism officials say it is on course to set a new record this year.