An upbeat outlook for tourism was issued today by a major industry player while suggesting that beautification is critical for the industry’s continued favourable performance.
Chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) Martin Ince gave the assessment on Tuesday while addressing the TDC’s 32nd annual general meeting, which followed its members meeting at the Accra Beach Resort.
Calling for pride of country to “return” in Barbadians, Ince said the country should no longer settle for less than excellent on improvements in areas that would help enhance the island’s tourism offering.
Ince said: “We cannot settle for five out of ten. It has to be ten out of ten or better than ten out of ten.
“There are many areas that we need to improve in, but I don’t want to get in specific areas, but we all know the task ahead.”
But he singled out nationwide beautification for continuous attention if Barbados is to continue to attract record numbers of visitors and benefit residents.
Ince declared that in recent years there has been neglect in many areas in the overall tourism product and that the effects have started to appear.
He said: “I think there are a number of areas that we have slipped on.
“Certainly, The Bridgetown area is an area that needs some beautification”.
“Tourism is key to Barbados and we can’t stress that enough.
“We need to constantly be improving the product that we have.
“We have a lot of repeat visitors and they are looking to see Barbados return to beautiful Barbados.”
Presenting his annual report, Ince said the need for ramped up beautification across the island resulted in the TDC increasing its funding for that area.
For the financial year ending March 31, 2019, the TDC spent some $1.6 million dollars on more than 60 projects, with about 37 per cent of the funding supporting marketing activities of several organisations and 63 per cent supporting product development.
Last financial year, the TDC spent $1.2 million on projects.
Ince said: “This past year we have seen the largest spend in many years that the TDC has done.
“There were many areas that needed attention and we have continued to put a lot of focus on beautification in Barbados and we have seen in our spend that spend has gone up.”
For the financial year, funding for beatification was the second highest at 22.5 per cent of total spending on nine projects, behind the 37.5 per cent that went to support 15 sports tourism-tlated projects.
The TDC also supported one eco-tourism project (2.5 per cent of the funding), three events and festivals (7.5 per cent), six promotions projects (15 per cent), four safety improvement projects (10 per cent), one historical and preservation activity (2.5 per cent) and one epicurean project (2.5 per cent).
Some of the beautification projects included bathroom refurbishments at Oistins, Barclays Park, Worthing and Accra; sprucing up of the Andromeda Gardens, the Aquatic Centre, the East Point lighthouse and refurbishment of NCC lifeguard huts in five locations.
Ince said he saw room for more upgrades to take place across some of the island’s major attractions and iconic areas including Oistins.
The TDC chairman said: “We will always be looking to improve on what we have.
“If you look in Holetown as well, they have a lot of work going on there recently and beautification has become one of the key fund receivers that we have had.
“I do see that as an area that we need to, as a tourism destination, spend a lot of time on.”
In a separate development, the TDC boss declined to comment on the sale of the Sam Lord’s Castle resort but said the TDC looked forward to its completion, adding that there was “a breath of fresh air blowing in the country” in tourism development.
“We are very excited about the future and we look forward to seeing the developments coming to fruition. We are very excited about all the plans,” said Ince.
Some 1,300 new hotel rooms are expected to be built over the next three years, which officials are hoping will help to enhance the destination’s offering. [email protected]