Tourism in Barbados
No matter what time of year, Barbados is without a doubt a tourist hot spot that caters to all travelling tastes and budgets. In fact, the tourism industry has now become the backbone of the Barbadian economy, and the island goes all out to make sure its visitors feel welcome and enjoy their vacation.
There are several key elements that keep tourists coming to the island year after year - its deep heritage and culture, political stability, friendly people, varied entertainment and nightlife, as well as its natural beauty and tropical climate.
The peak tourist season officially runs from mid-December to mid-April, which is also 'dry season' in Barbados. Because the Caribbean hurricane season runs from May to November, it also signifies the off-peak tourist season for the island. But, don't let this deter you. Barbados is continually spared the direct hit of a major hurricane and you can still enjoy all the island has to offer, even during off-peak season.
Barbados - A Tourist's Delight!
Whether you're after high-end luxury, or something a little more budget, rest assured this tiny island paradise has something to delight every tourist.
And, don't just take our word for it. Barbados has won numerous travel and tourism awards, further strengthening its status as one of the world's leading tourist destinations.
Caribbean Journal proudly named Barbados as its 2015 Caribbean Destination of the Year as part of its Caribbean Travel Awards (http://caribjournal.com/2015/11/30/the-caribbean-travel-awards-2015/).
Barbados was also nominated for several categories of the 2015 World Travel Awards, including Caribbean's Leading Airport, Caribbean's Leading Cruise Port, Caribbean's Leading Cruise Destination, Caribbean's Leading Destination, and Caribbean's Leading Honeymoon Destination, amongst others.
Fodor's Travel Guide (www.fodors.com) also named Barbados in its 2015 'Go List' of 'can't miss' tourist destinations, and USA Today ranked the island in the top five off-peak travel destinations for fall 2013.
To top it all off, Barbados was also named the most innovative country in the Caribbean, and the world's 14th most innovative nation, according to the 2014 Global Innovation Index.
A Brief Tourism History ...
During the mid-17th century, sugarcane production had the Barbadian economy booming and saw Barbados become the richest European colony in the Caribbean.
Sugarcane continued to be the primary economy booster for the island for many years, however during the 1950s and 1960s, there was a push to diversify the economy into other services like tourism. It was during this time, that an increase in visitors from Canada and the United Kingdom saw tourism show serious potential as the new money maker for Barbados.
In 1961, a new Deep Water Harbour at the Bridgetown Port was constructed so the island could allow cargo vessels and cruise ships to enter the harbour and since then, tourism has remained a crucial economic activity for Barbados and provided a steady growth of employment to the local population.
To this day, tourism remains the chief money maker for the island, having eclipsed manufacturing and sugarcane. The Government of Barbados continues to encourage investment in Barbados' tourism industry in the form of hotel developments, hospitality ventures, world-class sporting events, festivals and cultural activities, to continue the economic growth for the island.
According to the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) (www.barstats.gov.bb), the most recent 'stay-over' tourist arrivals statistics for January to September 2015 were at 432 739, compared with 376 713 in 2014 - a promising 14.9% increase in tourist arrivals for the island.
The BSS Tourist Arrivals Report (www.barstats.gov.bb/files/documents/Tourism_Arrivals_Jan-_Sep_2015.pdf) also stated that during January to September 2015, most visitors to Barbados came from the UK, followed by the USA and Canada, then from other CARICOM countries.
The report shows the purpose of these tourist visits were primarily for holidays, further cementing Barbados' status as a prime international tourist destination.
Cruising To Barbados
Many tourists also choose to visit to the island via cruise ship. And, since the early 1980s when Barbados first ventured into the cruise tourism industry, there has also been significant growth in this sector.
In 1985, Barbados welcomed just over 127 000 cruise ship passengers, and by 2004 that number jumped to a record 812 683. The BSS records the most recent (2014) cruise passenger arrivals at 557 898, and although this number has declined from previous years, Barbados still welcomes close to 1 million tourists to its shores every year.
Attracting Tourists To Barbados
It goes without saying that two of the major tourist attractions for Barbados are its beaches and Crop Over. It also helps that the island is the birthplace of pop superstar Rihanna, who makes regular visits home, especially during the festival season.
Aside from this, Barbados has a variety of attractions and things to do that any tourist would enjoy, and the island is working hard to continue to play the perfect host to its visitors.
In preparation for the upcoming 2015 tourist season, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) launched a new style of 'Tourism Week', kicking off on 5th December with a Bajan Pride Expo. The week also features a tourism parade and concludes with the 'Speightstown Sizzle', an evening street fair. It is hoped the activities will drive more tourists to the island and continue to boost the local economy now and into the future.
For more information about tourist activities in Barbados, check out our events calendar which is regularly updated with all the island's events and activities.
Author: Brett Callaghan