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Opposition Leader Owen Arthur (left) addressed hoteliers this afternoon during the BHTA’s fourth quarterly meeting at Hilton Barbados. He is seen here chatting with Bernie Weatherhead afterwards.

Barbados’ tourism sector is entering this weekend’s start of the winter tourist season in a state of decline.

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Executive Vice President, Sue Springer, revealed today that up to the end of last month long-stay visitor arrivals decreased by six per cent, while the cruise sector had suffered double digit declines between November 2011 and June this year.

And as the industry heads into 2013, the tourism executive said the major United Kingdom and United States markets were suffering from a lack of adequate airlift and calling for a replacement for the all-inclusive rooms lost when Almond Beach Village closed in April.

The loss of REDjet has also been a major blow and increasingly “aggressive” marketing by regional tourism destinations, including Grenada and St. Lucia is also a major threat to Barbados’ arrivals from the Caribbean.

This state of affairs was outlined by Springer this morning when she reported to BHTA members attending the organisation’s fourth quarterly meeting at Hilton Barbados.

“In Barbados, long-stay arrivals recorded a decrease of approximately six per cent from January to almost the end of November. Decreases were seen in all markets except for Germany, other Europe, Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

“Cruise tourism has seen arrivals decreased by 16 per cent for the period of November to April, the last winter season, and ship calls declined by 7.6 per cent. We have also seen a decline of 10 per cent between June and September, with only one ship visiting through the summer, which has certainly had a knock-on effect to our attractions, taxi drivers and retail.

“We have seen that there are some returning ships coming for 2013/14 season, there are in fact some ships actually coming back even as early as January next year and we do have the plan for new infrastructure for the port,” she noted.

One of the major challenges Barbados is facing in its quest to increase tourist arrivals from the UK and US is airlift and the lack of all-inclusive rooms, something Springer said British tour operators especially were concerned about.

“After the closure of Almond (Beach Village) over and over again when we were talking to the tour operators they were saying ‘so who is going to open another all inclusive product?’,” she said.

As for the US, Springer added: “Lost of hotel plant and inventory and again especially here with the all-inclusive has impacted on this market quite considerably, loss of airlift in the recent past … and of course we have lost the wonderful gateway of Dallas.” (SC)

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