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New trends in tourism


A number of new trends among some visitors over the last year contributed to the overall

decline in the Barbados tourism performance.

Sue Springer, executive vice president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA),

identified some of the trends in an interview with Barbados TODAY recently as she took a

look back at 2013.

While cruise arrivals were up last year there was a decline of 5.8 per cent or a decrease of

27,778 in long-stay visitors when compared to 2012. Besides a drop in long-stay arrivals, Springer

said many families, groups and couples opted to book villa or condominium accommodation

so they could share the cost among them rather than paying for a room per night in a hotel,

adding that they continued to wait until “the very last minute” before taking the decision to book

their vacation.

She said officials in the industry also noticed a different trend in visitors’ spend during the 2013

period when it came to transportation. More tourists were utilising public transportation rather

than hiring a car or taking a taxi.

And while the number of tourists that ate outside the property at which they were staying

increased, they were “inclined to choose smaller establishments or order a lower priced wine

from the wine list,” said Springer.

During the first nine months of 2013 there was a reduction in tourist spend which resulted in

a decline in retail revenue of between 10 to 20 per cent for the hotel industry.

However, December last year, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy reported that while visitor

arrival numbers were down, according to a Caribbean Tourism Organization survey tourists

spend was up for the industry. He did not say by how much.

Paul Doyle, managing director of the Crane Hotel, identified high wage bills and taxes as two

of the major issues affecting the competitiveness of the hotel sector.

He said: “Barbados has higher wage rates than other places we compete with and they don’t

have to import as many things because they have their own economies that can supply them at

competitive rates”.

“If tourism is going to be the salvation of the economy we need to go there and fight fair and

square . . . . It is important for Barbadians to understand that it is not that the hotels are coming

and asking for favours and keep coming back . . . but we are in an industry that has to compete

with everywhere in the world where they don’t have these levels of costs,” said Doyle.

Springer said without granting all hotels concessions, “unfair competition will play and could

cause a major challenge to the survival of the hotel sector”.

She said: “There is a need for the acceleration of approvals for improvements to properties,

a rationalization of exemption from duties so everyone knows what is duty-free, confirmation of

the regulations for the reduced rate of VAT for the Direct Tourism Service companies, and the

implementation of the National Host programme – Barbados Together.”

As for the private sector, Springer said there was a need for constant improvements of all of

the properties and upgrades of attractions. She said it was also critical for property owners to

improve their service levels and continue to retrain, motivate and empower staff.

“To focus on product excellence, it is important to remain updated regarding industry trends

and to constantly look for ways to deliver service or the product that is being offered in a unique

and innovative manner,” advised Springer. (MM)


One Response to New trends in tourism

  1. Stephen Small-Warner January 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

    How about an assessment/analysis of Barbadians abroad, returning for visits/vacations? Where they stay, their spending total(s), use of rental vehicles, overall spending (gifts, money to rlatives,
    Are we contributing? What appeals/attractions to them coming home for vacations have been considered? Have we asked for or encouraged their suggestions in ways they can help to stimulate the economy, short term or long term?
    How about Barbadian pensioners getting their money from abroad? How about finding a way for them to use medical care here with reimbursement for whatever insurance package they have (if they pay) or fee scale services if they have insurance abroad?
    How about selling our destination also as a natural supberb recuperative environment (sun, sea, great weather, beaches, service, accommodation, service personnel…trained nurses, household services etc.) for those who need to recuperate short/long term in our great year round climate/environment
    or for that matter have their medical condition addressed by our physicians here and recuperate here?


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