The nation’s tourism promotion agency has declared 2019 to be a “positive” year for tourism despite tough challenges.
The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc’s chief executive officer, William Billy Griffith, revealed that officials have projected a seven per cent increase in booked flight seats for 2019.
Speaking to the media at the just concluded annual Connect Barbados conference, he disclosed that the destination, which attracts 1.3 million seats annually, has seen a 20 per cent increase in the US market, an eight per cent rise in Canada and a five per cent increase from the United Kingdom.
Germany is expected to produce 21, 000 travelers starting on October 28 complements the agreement with Lufthansa Airlines.
“It is not an easy road for tourism but we are going to be very positive about it,” Griffith said.
He stated that there has been an increased interest in Barbados’ tourism product with the 14th year of Connect Barbados setting “record numbers” with over 90 overseas delegates and tour operators arriving from North America, Europe, United Kingdom, South America, and the Caribbean.
Some 200 delegates participated in over 1200 meetings with local hoteliers and tour operators from May 1 to May 4. Held under the theme, “Breathing Power into Business Connections”, tourism industry figures and partners were expected to learn and experience the latest the island has to offer in service and product development.
The BTMI CEO declared that despite the economic and infrastructural challenges the island has faced, it remains a popular destination to agents and operators.
Griffith said: “Barbados continues to be an extremely attractive destination in spite of all the challenges, in spite of Brexit, in spite of all the macroeconomic challenges.
“Barbados is a desirable destination for overseas visitors and the growth we have seen over the past few years is driven by demand and the demand has driven the increase in air seats and it has also driven the increase in hotel rooms as well.”
While touching on the BTMI’s plans for further exploration of the US in the Midwest and West Coast markets, Griffith also revealed that the BTMI will be embarking on a major drive targeting the Barbadian Diaspora for Vision 2020.
“We want to make a bigger drive with the diaspora as well. We are trying to do the Vision 2020 next year but it should not be about vision 2020, we should consistently be able to create packages and encourage the diaspora to Barbados as well,” Griffith told reporters.