Sealy, what have you done?
Former Minister of Tourism, Noel Lynch, has charged that Barbados has lost its market share in every destination from which it draws visitors.
Lynch levelled this charge against Minister of Tourism and Democratic Labour Party candidate for St. Michael South Central, Richard Sealy, while addressing a meeting at Quaker’s Road, Carrington Village, last night.
Lynch told his audience: “Arrivals are down; the earnings in the tourism sector are down; investment in the sector is down; the room stock in the sector is down; all the airlines seats are down; the marketing dollars are down and the morale of the people is down.”
Lynch, who is the Barbados Labour Party’s candidate in the St. Michael South constituency, noted that Barbados had the worst arrival figures in the region.
He pointed out that of the 31 countries reporting to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, arrival figures for last year were dire for only five countries.
He pointed that Antigua’s arrival figures were up 2.3 per cent; Aruba was up 2.6 per cent; the Bahamas was up 2.9 per cent; Barbados was down 6.0 per cent; Belize was up 10.1 per cent; the British Virgin Islands was up 1.7 per cent; the Cayman Islands was up 3.8 per cent and Grenada was down 5.1 per cent.
According to Lynch, Barbados had the worst figures of the 31 countries reporting to the CTO.
He charged that that was indicative of what Sealy and his team had done to tourism.
The former two-term MP argued that the countries cited drew their visitors from the same sources, yet they recorded growth, while Barbados recorded a decline in visitor arrivals.
The number, he said, had grown worse for every year that Sealy was Minister of Tourism.
In Barbados’ major market, he told the crowd, British Airways had threatened the island with flight and seat reductions.
“We have lost the Almond Beach Hotel, the largest single conglomerate of rooms. We are still without Four Seasons Hotel. For all the talk about bringing back Four Seasons, nothing has happened. Barbados has lost 1,000 rooms. The Barbados Tourism Authority cannot meet its obligation to anybody across the globe. Barbados owes everybody and we are running from our creditors.”
He charged that Barbados’ reputation and its brand had been compromised.
The former tourism minister noted too that Barbados has lost airlift out of every market.
Lynch recalled that Sealy had promised the country brand name hotels, but in fact has lost hotels.
While acknowledging that he supported the opening of new markets, he warned that the time to open new markets was not in a recession.
“The time to open new markets is when things are going well. When you are in a recession you should concentrate on your core market, which is Great Britain. To save the sector we need rooms,” Lynch argued. (NC)