Tourism looking up
Officials happy with island’s figures
Tourism officials are upbeat with initial figures showing that the island recorded the highest number of January arrivals in 15 years.
Additionally, chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) William Griffith said, arrivals from the United States market in that same month recorded a 14 per cent increase – the highest from that market since 2011.
He also provided figures that showed the island not only began the year on a positive note, but ended 2014 similarly, with December 2014 seeing the highest number of visitor arrivals to Barbados – 61,128 – compared to any other month since April 2007 when the island hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Additionally, figures for 2014 showed that instead of the projected four per cent decline, the island recorded a 2.2 per cent increase in overall visitor arrivals when compared to the previous year.
Griffith delivered the report during a media conference today at the Island Inn Hotel where BTMI chairman Alvin Jemmott also outlined plans for the sector.
“We are optimistic with the projections so far for 2015. Preliminary figures for the month of January 2015 show that Barbados realized 56,132 visitors in total, the highest on record in 15 years. Arrivals out of the USA in January 2015 grew by 14 per cent, to reach a total of 10,810. This was the highest for arrivals in January out of the USA since 2011, when USA arrivals reached 11,968,” said Griffith who has been at the helm of the relatively new entity for about four months.
“While we are encouraged by these results we are very cognizant that one or two great months is not the panacea. The battle for growth and sustainability for visitor arrivals will not be won solely by winter performances, it will require greater activities for the summer and fall months.”
Barbados recorded an increase of 15 per cent in UK visitor arrivals, 27 per cent in Canadian visitor arrivals, a 23 per cent increase from the German market and a 20 per cent increase in arrivals out of Brazil in January this year.
However, Griffith said the CARICOM market continues to struggle, with Trinidad and Tobago recording the greatest decline – 12 per cent for that period.
“Although the CARICOM market registered a loss of 9.9 per cent it remains the third largest source market for the island. Thirty-five per cent of the total visitors from this region or 27, 915 travellers came from Trinidad and Tobago. Our research tells us that this decline was due to a number of factors including diminished spending power among potential travellers, and a ten per cent reduction in seats in LIAT. High airfares place regional travel in an uncompetitive position in some instances when compared to the cost of international travel,” the BTMI head explained.
For 2014, the UK led the increase in visitor arrivals with 37 per cent of the market share, an increase of 11 per cent from the previous year.
The United States continued in second place with 23 per cent of the visitor arrivals or 118,659 total visitors. This represents a two per cent drop or 2,074 fewer visitors, when compared to 2013.
Griffith said that decline could be attributed to a decline in airlift during the year.
Arrivals from Brazil for 2014 continued on an upward path recording an 18 per cent increase, when compared to 2013.
And while the Canadian market declined by 2.2 per cent in 2014 when compared to the previous year, the German, Netherland and Belgium markets recorded increases of 16 per cent, 17 per cent and seven per cent, respectively. Italy also recorded a 13 per cent increase for the year, when compared to 2013.
In his analysis of the 2014 performance, Jemmott said it was “a period of marked recovery”. He said it was the first sign of positive growth in two years.
“All of our key source markets show positive signs of growth and this augers well for the future growth of the Barbados tourism sector for 2015 onwards,” he said.
In 2014, the island welcomed 395 cruise ships, an increase of 21 vessels or six 6 per cent, when compared to 2013. This resulted in the island welcoming 557,898 passengers but that was a decline of about two per cent.
Home porting also declined by five per cent but that is expected to rebound with a projected increase of about 17 per cent.
Despite the overall favourable performance and bright outlook, Jemmott said the BTMI would be strengthening its partnerships and beefing up its marketing efforts in a number of niche areas, including culinary, romance, education, sports, meetings and events.
He said the new focus was diversifying the product offerings and source markets, reducing vulnerability to shocks in any region, reducing seasonality, strengthening partnerships and pursuing an integrated marketing approach.
“In addition to our long-term goals we are still rooted in the desire to break down the language barrier, in pushing new categories of visitors and providing new tourism products that can attract the next generation traveller,” said Jemmott.