Barbados factors in upsurge in regional tourism business
Barbados is sharing in the biggest Caribbean tourism boom in history.
Taking part in a regional state of the industry Press conference here this morning, Minister of TourismRichard Sealy, who is also chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) noted that this country saw increased arrivals in 2014 of about 2.1 per cent, which he acknowledged was slightly below the regional average.
However, he said going forward the island expected to outperform other Caribbean destinations in terms of its cruise numbers.
“We also saw increases in cruise,” said Sealy, while noting that only a few CTO members experienced declines.
“I think that’s a wonderful thing and that’s where we are,” he added.
Also addressing the news conference, which took place at the CTO’s Warrens, St Michael headquarters and was streamed live on the worldwide web, the Secretary General Hugh Riley revealed that overall, member countries had recorded visitor arrivals of 26.3 million last year – 1.3 million more than for the same period in 2013.
Added to this, Riley said visitors spent US$29.2 billion in Barbados and the rest of the region. This amounts to one billion dollars more than in the previous year.
“Clearly, last year, the Caribbean’s tourism industry was the strongest on record. There is no doubt that political and economic conditions, increased airline capacity, improved airport facilities, increased room stock, as recognized hotel chains established themselves in our destinations, and initiatives came into the marketplace; all of this contributed to the success in 2014,” Riley said.
The top Caribbean tourism official also expressed optimism that this trend would continue in 2015, considering the economic activity in the region’s major source markets and the fact that several CTO member states have negotiated additional airline routes.
He also said the Caribbean was expected to remain the number one destination for cruise passengers this year, even though some ships were to be repositioned from the region, resulting in a slight decline in cruise ship capacity.
Nevertheless, Riley is projecting growth in tourism arrivals of between four per cent and five per cent this coming year.
Describing the regional tourism sector as sound, the CTO secretary general noted that the demand for Caribbean vacations outstripped that of the rest of the world, which, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation, recorded a growth rate of 4.7 per cent.
“This robust showing for the Caribbean was based on the fact that traditional markets performed well,” Riley added.
He explained that Canada, which was flat in 2013, rallied strongly; the United States maintained healthy growth and Europe topped five million visitors for the first time since 2008.
Intra-regional market also performed reasonably well, with the Dutch Caribbean recording the highest growth within the sub-region, followed by Cancun, Cozumel, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Suriname and the US territories.
“Airlines doing business in the Caribbean are adding to seats to destinations to which they already fly, while some are adding new destinations; and as a result, capacity to Latin America and the Caribbean increased six per cent,” Riley said.
He told reporters the cruise sector was also strong last year, rebounding from a rise of just over two per cent in 2013, to post an increase of eight per cent last year.
“There were nearly 24 million cruise passenger visits compared to around 22 million the year before,” Riley stated.
He noted, too, that hotels in the Caribbean earned more money last year, than in the year before.
Revenue from available rooms went up 5.7 per cent.