Downturn big worry

New board of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados.
New board of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados.

The Intimate Hotels of Barbados group is reporting what its chairman describes as a worrying downward trend in occupancies.

When Renee Coppin address the organisation’s annual general meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, she lamented a significant drop in occupancy during the first six months of this year.

However, Coppin made it clear that the data was based on figures received from a mere 45 per cent of its members.

“Based on occupancies from the 20 or so members, IHB recorded occupancies for January at 78 per cent and February at 77 per cent. These rates fell substantially in April and May with 53 per cent and 41 per cent respectively,” she pointed out.

March, she stated, fell by 43 per cent. The small hotel executive told the AGM that projections for June this year, stood at 31 per cent.

“This represents a worrying downward trend which we are seeking to address with our initiatives,” she noted.

Coppin observed that the “lucklustre” performance reported recently by the Central Bank of Barbados for the overall tourism peak winter season, was an experience which small hotels lived daily.

“Most of us don’t need to read about the fate of our industry in the paper or to have any pundits tell us what is happening to tourism,” she insisted.

“We see it in the falling occupancies; we experience it in the struggle to manage our increasing costs even in the light of diminished revenues and we deal with it in the reality of our committed staff for whom we cannot even contemplate an increase in wages, even as we see the cost of living skyrocket beyond all of our grasp.”

Coppin assured members the organisation would not allow the current state of affairs to define it vision, its strategic direction or its purpose.

“We are aware that the small hotels are the genesis of this sector. Several of our member properties have been around since the post-independence period and, particularly in the past 30 years, have witnessed tourism’s many fluctuating fortunes,” continued Coppin.

She added that she anticipated this sector would be in existence for sometime to come.

“It requires the kind of resilience, tenacity, creativity, innovation and courage that has always characterised our membership,” suggested the hotelier. (EJ)

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