Barbados Tourism Authorities up beat about the 2008 – 2009 Winter Season

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Barbados Tourism Authorities up beat about the 2008 – 2009 Winter Season

Barbados is banking on its largely up-market, value-for-money tourism profile to help get it through the current world financial turmoil and the resulting economic slowdown, especially in its major markets.

“We stand a good opportunity to fare better than most,” Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President, Wayne Capaldi, told one local newspaper.

In spite of the major financial crisis in the United States and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom, Capaldi says bookings for the 2008 – 2009 Winter season officially starting in December 15, look “relatively strong”.

“We’re looking at what we would call a typical winter season thus far,” the BHTA head said. He noted that BHTA member had not reported any significant winter cancellations.

But Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson isn’t quite as upbeat. He is predicting that the fall out from the world financial turmoil could make 2009 potentially a “very difficult year” for the island.

He told his latest post-cabinet press briefing that his government’s plans to head off trouble include a national consultation on October 27th and 29th to assess the likely impact of what is happening in the world financial markets and plan a counter strategy.

“We will start with an analysis of what’s going on internationally, so that we can then start to structure our accounts, estimates and so on with that in mind,” the Barbados Prime Minister said.

One focus will be on how Barbados will market itself in tourism and international business, two key revenue generators.

The Barbados government has already announced an extra 10 million dollar (US$5 million) addition to its 2008 budget for tourism promotion.

Canada is one of the countries targeted for enhanced promotion, as Barbados seeks to restore Canadian visitor arrivals, which have declined in the last 20 years.

“The marketing of the country will be intensified, but will also become more focused on the market niches that we consider, on the basis of the statistical evidence available, provide us with the best value for our marketing dollar,” Mr. Thompson told the Barbados House of Assembly earlier this year.

Barbados depends heavily on tourism for its economic well being. Last year the industry earned an estimated $172 million dollars (US$86 million). Despite higher air fares from rising oil prices in 2007 visitor arrivals from Barbados’ key markets of the UK, Canada and the United States rose by 6.3 per cent, 7.7 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively up to November.

Additional Information:

October 17th, 2008