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Worry about tourism slump


Local tourism officials are concerned that not only are figures down, but they are down on already declining numbers.

And this, said president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Patricia Affonso-Daas, is an indication that a national focus on tourism is indeed needed.

Speaking at the third annual quarterly of the association this morning, the president told stakeholders: “Since we met in June the BHTA has been working on a number of fronts to support our members and to deal with the many critical issues affecting the industry.

“It is no secret that despite various efforts on a number of fronts that tourism arrivals have been down for more than 12 consecutive months – with statistics at September 27 showing arrivals 6.3 per cent down overall on 2012 with declines in all major markets – UK 2.9 per cent, Canada 7.3 per cent, USA 9.6 per cent and Trinidad 17.2 per cent. This is of particular concern as we are showing declines against a year that was already down thus our actual result if we compare to the same period in 2011 is even more significant – a decline of 11.56 per cent,” she said.

Affonso-Daas continued: “This trend is of significant concern as we are constantly made aware of the importance of the role of the sector in pulling the economy out of the recession and returning it to a position of growth and it is against this backdrop that the BHTA has over the past three months been placing its efforts in discussions with government on behalf of its members.”

To change the course of the industry, she told stakeholders they had to have a national focus that they could all subscribe to and believe in.

“[E]xcellence, innovation and implementation must be our watch words and we must show confidence and competence in order to drive competitiveness,” she challenged.

“Engendering confidence in our economic, social, political and other policies must be a priority and it is extremely concerning therefore, that having been informed of the 10 Point Plan for Tourism on July 19 which contained a number of measures aimed at providing relief in the short term to the sector and subsequently of the measures in the 2013 Budgetary proposals of August 13, that as [of] today’s date our membership, which is reflective of the full cross section of the industry, is not in a position to obtain benefit from the vast majority of the measures proposed.” The sector, she said, could not continue to operate in an environment where offers of support were extended but not backed up by a well thought-out plan for efficient and comprehensive execution, as the strength and value of a promise is only good if delivered on. Constant failure to deliver, implement or follow through in a timely manner diminishes confidence and extinguishes support,” she maintained. (LB) 

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