Don’t be fooled by tourism numbers, says Jordan
In the wake of last week’s Central Bank report, an Opposition political candidate is warning Barbadians not to be misled by the recent increase in tourism arrivals.
“The issue we are having is that the amount of money we expect to see we are not seeing because planes are coming full, but a lot of [visitors] are not staying here long enough to put the requisite foreign exchange into the [national] coffers,” warned Colin Jordan, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for St Peter.
He told a meeting of the BLP’s St James North branch last night at the Weston Community Centre that the Central Bank, in reporting on the tourism increase, had omitted a very important fact, which is that the arrivals were largely of short stay, low-spending visitors.
Jordan, a tourism executive, referred to a recent research done by the BLP’s economic advisor Clyde Mascoll, which showed that the majority of visitors here were one, two and three-day visitors.
“When you come into a country for one day there is very little you can do besides sleep in a hotel room. You hardly eat three meals if you are staying for one day,” the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association director with responsibility for finance said.
“So we have a significant increase in numbers, and not spending, in categories where those who arrive and are counted as arrivals do not have opportunity to spend in the country.”
In the quarterly report for the period ending December, 2015, Central Bank Governor Dr Delisle Worrell said, “the Barbados economy was estimated to have grown by 0.5
per cent in 2015.
“Thanks mainly to a stellar tourism performance, there was a 13 per cent increase in airlift from major source markets, an expansion in room stock, and refurbishment of aging hotel plant.
“Tourism receipts grew by an estimated five per cent, with arrivals up by 14 per cent, and all major markets recorded double digit increases,” the Governor said.
However, Jordan contended that operators within the industry were not feeling the impact and were therefore telling a different story.
“Taxi operators, those who operate attractions, tours etc, they are not going to see the benefit of a 14 per cent increase in arrivals when persons are not going to be staying for a significant enough period of time.
“If arrivals have gone up by 14 per cent and the contribution has gone up five per cent, there is a gap. It tells us that there is some other piece of information that is missing,” Jordan stressed.
The tourism executive said short stay visitors who had little time to spend comprised persons on work trips and those passing through the island on their way to a Caribbean cruise.
“Sometimes there are people who come in for business purposes, people who come in one day to get onto a boat the following day,” said the tourism specialist, adding: “I just would ask you not to be misled by the numbers.
“. . . I am not going to tell you that is not true, but the way the arrivals have increased we’re not going to see a commensurate increase in foreign exchange inflows,” he said