While tourism numbers might be down, Minister Richard Sealy says he is encouraged that spend is up, and is attributing it to the more non-traditional markets.
“I guess everyone is aware of the article four consultations taking place at the moment and IMF officials are here and it was quite interesting when they paid their courtesy call on me, they mentioned the fact that they note numbers are down in tourism, yet according to the CTO survey, spend is up for the first six months of the year.
“In explaining that I was able to make the point that because we are seeing increases from Europe for example, the Europeans tend to stay longer and spend more money and particularly the Germans whose currency is particularly strong and that economy is extremely strong, they are spending and our numbers are up significantly out of that market. The Brazilians are big spenders as well. We get about 3,000-odd per year. We weren’t getting any before.
“So yes we are seeing a little downturn out of the UK and US, but the visitors that coming from some of these other markets are spending more and I think that is what the CTO survey is bearing out and in my view is further cause for optimism because as we rejig this thing of our source markets and identify where we can get better business from, when we start to see growth now particularly out of those areas we have identified along with the traditional markets preparing themselves, we can then start to see a scenario where the value-added from tourism will be greater and greater,” said the minister.
Speaking yesterday as he hosted his annual Christmas party for constituents at the Democratic Labour Party Headquarters in George Street, St. Michael, said he was “heartened” as well by reports from the managers at Crane and Divi Southwinds, that they were basically full for the winter period.
“That is what they indicated and I was very heartened to hear that because that is consistent with what our findings are – that the winter is certainly looking extremely good; better than last year and there are a number of reasons for that. Concomitant with that is the fact that cruise is up significantly and more calls and more passengers, and perhaps most importantly, more vessels homeporting.
“That is the aspect that we definitely want to develop, where the cruises originate in Barbados and not that the vessels stop here when they are sailing on their voyage; where people fly into Barbados and the cruise starts here and we have a few more of those,” said Sealy.
Noting that they converted a shed at the Bridgetown Port to accommodate more homeporting, Sealy added: “I’m very encouraged by that development because as we speak about developing cruise going forward, central to that has to be Barbados’ positioning as the hub for southern Caribbean cruises and the opportunities that will go along with that for cruise and stay programmes, where you can pick up some extra bed nights; for our companies to provision these ships where they are going to need fruit and vegetables, dairy and fresh juices and other agricultural produce, meat and beer and rum and there are things that we can supply and are supplying and I obviously would want to see more things happening, but as we continue to build out that sub-sector, it has benefits, linkages that can help manufacturing, that can help agriculture, that can even help our service providers too, because they are going to need all of these things.” (LB)