More people are vacationing in Barbados year on year but they are just not leaving enough of their spending money behind, says the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).
There have been increases in the numbers of visitors from key source markets in Britain, the United States and Canada, said BHTA CEO Rudy Grant as he reported to members at their third quarterly general meeting on Wednesday at the Hilton Resort.
Between January and July this year Barbados welcomed a total of 413,616 visitors – a three per cent increase over the 401,710 visitors during the same period last year.
While the UK market remained the island’s largest source market, the largest increase in visitor arrivals for the period came from the US, which increased by 7.5 per cent year on year.
Visitor arrivals from UK increased by 3.2 per cent while Canada recorded an expansion of 2.8 per cent.
While pleased with the increased performance in visitor arrivals, Grant expressed concern that visitors spend was not on par.
He challenged hoteliers and other tourism service providers to do more to encourage visitors to Barbados to spend more.
“One of the areas that must be focused on relates to the actual spend . . . The increasing numbers are not being reflected with regard to increasing revenues. Therefore, it is important that we are able to, in collaboration with partners, through the enhancement of our product, through innovative thinking, to be able to facilitate visitor spend,” said Grant.
The Smith Travel Research (STR) for the first three quarters showed that BHTA member occupancy levels decreased marginally – 1.7 per cent – while the average daily rate increased slightly, by 2.8 per cent year on year.
A BHTA survey carried out among 43 hotels recently, which looked at data from July to August and projections for September 2018 to February 2019, indicated that September-October was the dullest period for local hotels.
During those two months a number of hotels would engage in renovations, he said.
But based on forward projections, the survey pointed to some softening of the overall market with some hoteliers reporting slightly lower projected occupancies for the winter season, compared to last year.
Data showed that the luxury category was projecting strong performance for the 2018/2019 winter season, which means that category is expecting to perform slightly above the national average of 65 per cent occupancy for the coming winter season.
Occupancy level for the A Class hotels is expected to be on par with that of the 2017/2018 winter season.
“For the B-class hotels we are seeing a slight decline with respect to the winter season over the prior year,” said Grant, who added that “overall we do anticipate there might be a slight decline in occupancy”.