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
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
“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)