Tourism drop

Worldwide, tourism continues

to perform resiliently in the face

of continued economic global

uncertainty, as too does the

sector regionally.

However, a former chairman of

the Board of Tourism has expressed

concern that the same cannot be said

for Barbados, expected to record a

five per cent drop in visitor arrivals

when the numbers are tallied.

Hotelier Ralph Taylor, addressing

the Barbados Labour Party-sponsored, inaugural

People’s Assembly at the Frederick Smith

Secondary School, noted that in 2012, the

Caribbean welcomed the highest number of

tourists it had ever seen –– nearly 25 million

tourists, the highest number the Caribbean had

ever welcomed. This, he revealed was a 5.4 per

cent increase over the numbers recorded

in 2011.

“This rate of growth out-passed the rest of

the world which had only seen a four per cent

increase. Barbados feared slightly worse with a

five per cent drop in tourism arrivals in 2012 .

. . . It has become increasingly obvious to more

and more Barbadians that tourism is the quickest

and possibly the only avenue to take the country

out if the current economic decline and on a

path to sustainability,” he said, noting that the

country required only about 572,000 visitors to

the island to ensure that the tourism sector was

economically viable.

“When you look at other destinations around

the world, that is a small [number], of people and

if we do a good job we can get all of those longstay

visitors. We can get [those visitors] from the

world market. In my tenure as chairman of the

Tourist Board, we focused on the world market

because we recognize that a number of the

existing markets that we were drawing our pool

from were under tremendous stress.

“The US was in turmoil, the UK had significant

problems. Canada was the best of the lot because

the economy had performed quite well during

the recessionary period. We recognized that

areas [like] South America had recovered from

its disastrous, economic period just before the

recession and when it was hitting these markets

were doing. We put a programme in place to get

people from areas,” Taylor told the audience.

He noted that there were several other

Caribbean destinations that did a similar thing,

like Aruba, that saw real return, and, in this

regard, Barbados also “reopened” the European

market with specific efforts in Germany, since

this was one of the first European countries to

recover from the recession.

“This strategy of looking for where you can

get people to meet our numbers and give the

foreign exchange we want should have been

sustained,” Taylor lamented.

Another area of concern for the former

chairman, related to the build-out of the hotel

plant. Drawing comparisons between the

Barbados scenario and three other Caribbean

countries, he revealed that in 1980, Jamaica had

10,000 hotels rooms while in 2014, that number

rose to 30,000.

“In 1980 Cuba had 7,226 hotel rooms and

today they have 57,000. St Lucia had 1,245

hotel rooms in 1980, today they have 4,900

rooms. Barbados in 1980 we had 6,680 hotel

rooms. Today we have 5,400 hotels rooms. The

average growth in these countries between 1980

and today is 486 per cent compared to a decline

in Barbados of 20 per cent.

“And therein lies one of our major challenges.

We were not and are not still getting new hotel

development and we must ask ourselves why.

The reality is that investors are looking for

adequate returns on capita and then all other

factors are considered. It is clear that our returns

are not wooing the investors,” Taylor said. (RG)

One Response to Tourism drop

  1. Ian Brathwaite January 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I reside in Philadelphia (USA). On many of the telivision show such as “Wheel Of Fortune” and “kelly & Michael” destination prizes are given away daily, very seldom do you see trips to Barbados. Aruba, St.Lucia, Jamaica and more are always being bromoted.

    I think that if the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Industry were to
    offer invitational packages to the country more people may
    consider visiting to see for themselves. Thanks to Rihanna,people
    here are getting more famillar with barbados and what it has to


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