By Marlon Madden
The COVID-19 pandemic can no longer be used as an excuse for the performance of the tourism industry, says Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Renee Coppin.
In fact, she is concerned about the slow pace of recovery and calls for greater information sharing.
Coppin said while she was encouraged by the industry’s performance for 2022 which showed signs of a comeback following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, more must be done to bring Barbados back to 2019 levels.
“In order to have your best performance you have to train hard, prepare fully, set aggressive goals and go up against your best competition. So Barbados has to be prepared to do all of these things because we have no more room for excuses. We can’t be here at the end of this year. It is time for us to get in the game,” said Coppin.
She was delivering her report during the BHTA’s first quarterly meeting for 2023 at the Accra Beach Resort on Wednesday, which had as its theme Women in Tourism: Making a Difference.
“We were very excited to see that in December, for the first time since the pandemic, arrivals exceeded our last normal year, 2019. While we ended the year 250,082 persons down on 2019 levels, what we are optimistic about is a sustained revival of our sector as we claw our way back to consistent performance,” said Coppin.
However, indicating that the issue of information sharing will be key to the industry’s continued recovery, Coppin said it will be important to get “good information and use it logically and intelligently”.
“Doing the right analyses, asking the tough questions and being prepared to face hard truths will be very important. When we look at our performance for 2022 relative to the rest of the world and the rest of the region, we are very aware that Barbados fell below global and regional averages in our pace of recovery,” she said.
Barbados’ tourism recovery was estimated to be around 66.2 per cent of 2019’s performance at the end of last year while the Caribbean recovery was recorded at 83.7 per cent and the global recovery at around 62.6 per cent at the end of 2022 compared to 2019.
“It is important that we look at these numbers and that we are very frank and very real as to where we are and do what we need to do to get back on track. We no longer have COVID as a justification and so we will need to interrogate our information even more rigorously to ensure that we are staying ahead of our competitive set and so that we in the industry are bringing our “A” game to the table,” she cautioned.
Coppin, whose report came a day after the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) reported that visitor arrivals to the region could surpass 2019 record levels, reported that for January this year, Barbados welcomed 58,492 stay-over visitors, or 81.8 per cent more visitors than the same period last year.