While the month of September continues to be a challenging one for local hoteliers, one top tourism official is reporting an overall strong summer performance so far.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant said member hotels were reporting a generally good performance for the summer period, with occupancy levels higher this summer than in the summer of 2018.
“Overall, members have reported that the summer period is a positive-looking period. When we review our STR reports, which are up to the end of July for our reporting members, there has been an increase in overall occupancy of about six per cent. So, for the period, we are seeing a good performance with respect to occupancy,” he said.
During June to August, thousands of visitors usually descend on the island to take part in the annual Crop Over festival, helping to boost tourism numbers. With just about a month to go before the summer period officially ends, Grant said officials from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) were still crunching the numbers.
While he could not immediately say what was the average length of stay during the summer, he indicated that “the information we would have received before would have suggested that there has been some increase in the spend”.
Singling out the month of September, however, Grant said that period remained a challenging one for all market segments with the projected overall occupancy level lower than last year.
However, he was quick to point out that travellers were increasingly making later bookings.
“We will have to be collaborating with the BTMI to determine what strategies we will utilize in order to ensure that September is a better performing month,” said Grant.
“But I want to remind you of the fact that what we have observed is that in all segments of the market there are late bookings coming in and those late bookings tend to change the projected picture in a significant way. So, while at this stage we are seeing that September is a month where the performance is projected to not be as good as last year, that can certainly change closer to September.”
Meanwhile, the BHTA executive told Barbados TODAY that visitors were increasingly seeking authentic experiences to enjoy local culture and cuisine and interact with Barbadians.
Using Oistins as an example, Grant said there were several visitors staying on the West Coast who opted to take a bus or taxi to Oistins to get that cultural experience.
“What we have been noticing is that visitors want to experience those elements that reflect the Barbadian way of life and what it means to be Barbadian and to reflect the authenticity of Barbados as a tourism destination,” he said.
“That is the type of attraction we are looking at; that is the type of avenue we are constantly having discussions about, as to how we can better enhance the experience of the visitors by exposing them to more elements that represent the authenticity of Barbados and relate what it is to be in Barbados and to experience Barbados.”