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Expect fewer tourists

touistsonthebeachThings are looking up for some Caribbean tourism destinations, but Barbados, with its heavy dependence on the British market, is expected to have another difficult year.

Indication of this has come from the leadership of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation, which has pointed to the “stark reality” that countries in the island’s position would struggle to recover in 2013.

And already, based on information seen by Barbados TODAY there is early evidence of the continued difficulty.

In a new state of the industry report, CTO Chairman, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, said amid “positive signs of growth following earlier down years” in the region, Caribbean destinations with a tourism profile like Barbados seemed set to face an extended recovery period.

“Amidst these positive signs is the stark reality that some of our member countries are still hard pressed to recover, particularly those that rely heavily on the British market,” the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism Commissioner said.

“This is because the UK’s travelling population continues to be daunted by an ailing economy and further applications of the onerous Air Passenger Duty.

Business depressed

“The numbers from the UK suggest that business from this very important market for several CTO member countries remain depressed. A total of one million land-based visitors came from the UK to the Caribbean last year, down from 1.1 million in 2011.

“That’s a steep drop of 10 per cent. The number has declined significantly in the past three years in the backdrop of weak European economies and currently high airfares precipitated by substantial increases in Air Passenger Duty in the last two years.”

Barbados’ early 2013 challenges, especially related to long stay arrivals have now been made evident by information released by the Barbados Statistical Service.

Data comparing tourism arrivals by country of residence for January 2012 and last month, have revealed that Barbados suffered a 8.2 per cent decline, whle there was better news for cruise arrivals.

“Stay-over visitor arrivals for January 2013 numbered 48,288 representing a decrease of 4,331 or 8.2 per cent when compared to January 2012.

Germany, Other Europe and Other Countries were the only markets for which increases of 291 or 30.6 per cent, 646 or 15.4 per cent and 104 or 5.7 per cent where recorded,” the BSS bulletin stated.

“Cruise passenger arrivals for January 2013 were 93,132 representing an increase of 11,720 or 14.4 per cent when compared to the same period for 2012,” it added.

As far as the overall Caribbean tourism picture was concerned, Nicholson-Doty said, “The state of Caribbean tourism gives us reason to be optimistic. This optimism is based on the positive signs of growth following earlier down years. We are optimistic because we see arrival numbers rising, particularly out of North America; we see hotel revenues moving in the right direction, albeit with moderate acceleration and we see tourist spend on the increase.

Caribbean tourism rallying

“All the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying. The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression in 2008/2009. Last year, the Caribbean welcomed nearly 25 million tourists, that’s 5.4 per cent more than in 2011 and the largest number of stay-over visitors in five years. This rate of growth outpaced the rest of the world which saw arrivals increase by four per cent.”

“At the same time, cruise tourism has been flat region-wide for each of the last three years. Intra-regional shifting of cruise schedules resulted in fairly significant increases in the northern Caribbean activity offset by reductions in that of the south,” she added.

The CTO official said in a bid to “stay afloat” in 2013, hotels and other tourism service providers in the Caribbean “will need to maintain the most attractive offers to further boost their rising levels of occupancy and general profitability in light of continued consumer austerity”.

“Barring any international or regional unforeseen economic or social trauma in 2013, the indicators of Caribbean tourism performance should continue to move in a positive direction. Visitor traffic to the region is expected to increase by another four per cent to five per cent in 2013,” she added. (SC)

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