Barbados tourism reports record earnings in 2008.
Barbados estimates it earned a record $2.4 billion from tourism in 2008, despite the on-going world economic turmoil and an estimated 1.1% drop in long-stay visitor arrivals for the 12-month period.
The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), which promotes the sector, put the total number of tourists visiting the island at 566,763, compared with 574,697 in 2007, when the island hosted the final of the wildly popular Cricket World Cup.
According to the BTA, visitors from Britain produced the highest aggregate expenditure in 2008 and Canada turned in a much improved performance. The average daily spend by tourists for the year overall moved up to $189.
Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy expressed satisfaction with the sector’s 2008 performance despite the challenges:
“We all know that 2008 was an extremely challenging year,” Sealy said. “The price of oil was skyrocketing and we had specific challenges in the British market, with reduced seats brought about by the termination of Excel and First Choice charters.
“There were other major challenges too, but in these circumstances we did well,” the minister added.
Meantime both the BTA and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association are reporting a dip in the industry’s performance for 2009. The BTA estimated the long-stay visitor fall off at 7.7%.
The BHTA reports that it’s been seeing declines ranging from 5-16% in hotel occupancy, except in the “A” and “B” class properties. “A” class Barbados hotels registered a 2% improvement in occupancy levels up to March and “B” Class properties reported a 4% increase.
In the current climate, BHTA President Wayne Capaldi, says there’s been a wave of price discounts in the hotels and related tourism services, in order to maintain employment and there have been no mass layoffs.
“There are straight forward discounts, free nights…….so very much treating the winter season as if it was the summer……..and hence that is why we are saying that our revenues are down as well,” Capaldi added.
Barbados is this year again tapping into the Latin American tourist market. A twice weekly air service from Venezuela starts in April (2009) on Thursdays and Sundays, using two 48-seater planes. Behind the service are the BTA and Venezuela’s Linea Turistica Aereotuy (LTA), a travel and tour company which operates half a dozen aircraft.
LTA’s Sales Director, Jaime Diaz, expects there will be 8 charters from Venezuela to Barbados in April.
April 2nd, 2009