BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday June 2, 2018 – Tourism dependent Barbados could benefit from an overall increase in visitor arrivals from the Caribbean over the next two decades.
But it would first have to reduce its taxes and airport charges, says President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith.
Pointing to the findings of one of two recent studies financed by the bank, Smith suggested that the island could receive as many as 200,000 additional regional tourists over the next 20 years if the cost of regional travel were lower.
“The biggest beneficiaries in absolute terms would be Barbados and St Lucia with 200,000 and 140,000 additional passengers respectively,” Smith said, while stressing the need to lower taxes, liberalize the regional market and make changes to increase airport efficiency, combined with a recapitalized and restructured regional airline industry.
Barbados received 95,156 visitors from the Caribbean between January and November last year, a 3.9 per cent rise, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Local tourism officials also reported a 5.4 per cent increase in arrivals from Trinidad and Tobago last year, and a 3.6 per cent hike from the rest of the region.
Smith said statistics have shown that the aviation industry in the Caribbean faced several major difficulties that were stymieing the movement of businesses and leisure travellers within the region.
He warned that this was not a good trend, especially since the region depended heavily on tourism, agriculture and financial services.
“The CDB study confirms that air travel within the Eastern Caribbean is price elastic . . . . That study also concludes that a reduction in both taxes and airport charges would lead to sizeable growth in arrivals in virtually all countries.
“The study estimates that these measures would stimulate increases ranging from a low of five per cent in Dominica to a high of 18 per cent in St Kitts and Nevis over a 20-year period. In the case of Nevis, this expansion amounts to about 65,000 passengers,” Smith said.
The CDB president did not say when the survey was done or by whom. (Barbados Today)