WILLEMSTAD,Curaçao, October 22, 2015 – Barbados’ tourism sector is back on a path of growth following six years of recessionary conditions.
“This year we have seen growth in all of the major areas of importance, including airlift, accommodations, and programmes to enhance the quality of our tourism product,” chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William Griffith reported as he addressed the media at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s State of the Industry Conference taking place in Curaçao.
“We are also enjoying favourable global economic conditions in several key source markets, the price of oil is down and travelers are gaining greater confidence and now booking further in advance.”
For the upcoming winter season, the island is set to realize a seven per cent increase in airlift having negotiated several inaugural flights, including a new service out of Bogota, Columbia on December 2. The new Avianca service will permit connections between Barbados and Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Panama City, Mexico, Lima, San Salvador, Guayaquil and Quito with connection times of 2.5 hours or less.
On November 7, the island will welcome two new JetBlue flights: the new Mint service out of New York and the new Boston direct service. Arrivals out of the USA are already at a healthy 27.9 per cent.
There will also be a new Thomas Cook service from Glasgow, Scotland commencing the following day. Air Canada’s Rouge service is also set to return on January 7, 2016.
Griffith revealed that 2015 marked the start of over US$1 billion dollars in proposed new hotel plant investment over the next five years that will produce some 2,300 rooms.
This started with the opening of the luxury all-inclusive Sandals Barbados, which is scheduled to add some 220 rooms in 2016. This winter the Sugar Bay Hotel (formerly Amaryllis) and The Sands (formers Sandy Beach) will also open their doors as all-inclusive products, adding 300 new rooms.
The Wyndham Hotel project at the site of the iconic Sam Lord’s Castle and the Hyatt Hotel in the historic Bridgetown, will see the island welcoming two new established global hotel brands by 2018. In addition, 24 hotels have undergone significant refurbishments in time for the 2016 winter season.
Barbados has also made significant strides in both its long-stay and cruise arrivals. Some 432, 713 long-stay visitors were recorded at the end of September year-to-date, an increase of 14.5 per cent. Meanwhile cruise arrivals are set to increase by 5-7 per cent, largely driven by 16 inaugural visits. Among those scheduled calls are the Mein Sheiff 3 and the Carnival Britannia, two mega ships, which are now able to dock following a major expansion project at the Bridgetown Port.
The BTMI chief also alluded to a number of initiatives geared toward increasing Barbados’ competitiveness.
“We’ve just completed a brand positioning exercise wherein all of our future marketing campaigns will capitalize on our reputation as a safe, engaging and culturally rich destination – all of the ingredients sought by the contemporary traveler,” Griffith said.
The BTMI’s sister agency, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), is also implementing a number of initiatives to create new tourism experiences, assure high service and product quality and increase public awareness of the importance of tourism.