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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.

CTO research director Winfield Griffith, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and CTO secretary general Hugh Riley.

CTO research director Winfield Griffith, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and CTO secretary general Hugh Riley.

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.

3 Responses to ON HIGH

  1. Signori Nera
    Signori Nera February 11, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Poorly written, lacks facts and objectivity

  2. Alex3 February 11, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    2.1% is statistically within normal variation for such a measure. Overall the increase in the CTO arrivals was 5.2%.
    When spread over 29 member countries, 1.3 million is about 45000 each.
    The issue for Barbados after over 30 yr since I first arrived at BGI remains that while more, less expensive competition have evolved around the Caribbean, Barbados remains a relatively high end destination which does not compete all that well.
    It has taken entrepreneurs such as Butch Stewart too long to get his skills into the Barbadian market while others with grand ideas fail and damage the livelihood of their employees and their families.
    The west coast beaches particularly from Tamarind Cove all the way up to Royal Pavilion are the gem of the island and while I understand the boardwalks and erosion control teh fact is we did not have the garbage issues we see today on the boardwalks.
    The curbing on the boardwalks are a danger in high seas because their pins were just iron rebar which has rusted to failure rather than use stainless steel.
    Groins and other measures have been installed to create barriers to transit of the beach at point without consideration of tourists using the beach.
    It may shock some to know that a walk from Tamarind to Royal Pavilion and back is not uncommon in my experience.
    I love this island. More to the point I love the people of this island and it hurts to see those dependent on the tourism business so easily discarded when the smartest guys in the room get it wrong.
    So yes Mr. Sealy, 2% is good but in the big scheme not so great.
    Mexico alone had 50% of all the CTO visitors.
    Cuba has 10% of all the CTO numbers yet does not have access to the US market.
    Barbados cannot rest on its laurels of the past. Time will pass us by.

  3. Alex Alleyne February 11, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    One of the “best” things coming out of this is the DELTA trip direct to Atlanta from Barbados.


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