With tourism summer bookings for 2023 not looking bright, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has embarked on a sales campaign to attract visitors to the island.
This was revealed in the BHTA’s CEO Report which was presented during the association’s fourth quarterly meeting.
Outgoing chief executive officer Geoffrey Roach predicted that summer arrivals would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
However, he expects strong bookings for the winter season, with occupancy levels for December, January and February at 70 per cent, 68 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively.
A 56 per cent occupancy level has been predicted for March 2023, with the numbers decreasing for the following months of April (45 per cent) and May (42 per cent).
Those figures represent a significant decline from 2022. In March 2022, the occupancy percentage was 75 per cent, 65 per cent in April and 51 per cent in May.
Roach said the BHTA was embarking on a campaign to drive traffic to the island during the latter period of the summer.
He said the region was focused on attracting visitors from the US eastern corridor and Canada.
Although noting that summer airlift was not likely to return “in any significant way” until 2024, the BHTA official noted that Barbados still remained “high in demand”.
He said that demand was being driven more in the “luxury space” as the “front of the plane was filling faster”.
Roach said airlines were also working towards “building back volume”.
In relation to the cruise sector, Roach said things were looking up, with 16 vessels expected to make inaugural visits to Barbados during the 2022-2023 winter season.
Additionally, Roach said it was expected that the homeporting business would bring 436 wide-body aircraft out of the United Kingdom over a five-month period.
He said capacities on arriving vessels have been around 60 per cent, with “expectations of increases towards 100 per cent as the season progresses”.
Roach said there was currently a 50 per cent split between homeporting vessels and port-of-call vessels.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn said he hoped cruise ship arrivals for summer 2023 would be strong.
“We will see a significant increase in cruise ship arrivals to the country. You know that we had some issues during the summer with respect to the falloff in that and we hope to be able to see a significant improvement within that particular space as well as during the summer of next year. All things equal, we expect that we should see a very strong and robust performance,” he said.