Visitor arrivals are up for the first six months of 2018, and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) is expecting the positive trend to continue, with more flights due here and new attractions to come on stream before yearend.
In a release, the BTMI said that between January and June this year, Barbados recorded some 357,668 stay over visitors, an increase of 10,819, or 3.1 per cent, when compared to the same period in 2017. Of the island’s five major source markets, the United Kingdom is again out front with 119,241 people coming in from that market, up 2.8 per cent from 2017.
However, the biggest jump of 8.8 per cent was registered in the United States market from whence a total of 107,328 visitors came, while 53,236 visitors made their way here from Canada, a 2.9 per cent increase compared to 2017.
In terms of the Caribbean, Barbados attracted the majority of its visitors – 14,863 – from Trinidad and Tobago, while there was a 3.1 per cent increase in arrivals from the rest of the region.
The European continent retained its 4.3 per cent market share with 18,988 visitors.
While congratulating the players in the industry, Chief Executive Officer of the BTMI, William Billy Griffith, said Barbados must do more to remain competitive.
“As we continue to grow the Barbados brand, we must be strategic in our efforts and now, more than ever, we must focus on our key relationships. So, over the next six months we will be working even more closely with our partners to ensure these trends continue through the upcoming winter period and beyond.”
The increased arrivals can be attributed in part to greater airlift following the inauguration of Virgin Atlantic’s new twice-weekly service from London Heathrow, which started in December 2017 and continued through to April 2018. It is due to resume for the 2018-19 winter period.
Thomas Cook, another carrier operating from London Gatwick, will also continue its flights to Barbados in the 2018-19 winter season following a successful debut this past winter.
It is also expected that the new partnership with Copa Airlines out of Panama, which recently had its inaugural flight to Barbados, will reap significant benefits in terms of attracting new business from South America and the Caribbean.
In the US market, American Airlines is adding a third daily flight out of Miami on December 19 this year, and on that same day it will launch a daily non-stop service from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Barbados. Canadian airline WestJet is increasing its seat capacity by eight per cent between May and October this year, and
this coming winter, Air Canada will introduce three weekly flights from Montreal.
Griffith further revealed that some new attractions would also have aroused greater interest in the country.
“New attractions like Rihanna Drive and Nikki Beach, or even Hugo’s Restaurant, go a long way in showing that Barbados is committed to maintaining its position as a superior holiday destination, and looking ahead to the next six months, I am looking forward to experiencing the new Heritage Railway that St Nicholas Abbey is currently working on, which will feature a 45-minute train ride along the east coast of Barbados in a restored locomotive,” he said.
“We are cognizant of the continuous need to refresh and invigorate our product offerings, while preserving the elements of the Barbados experience that keep our repeat guest rate so high,” he added.