BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday March 11, 2019 – CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William ‘Billy’ Griffith, has revealed that the island enjoyed a 2.7 per cent increase in stay-over arrivals last year, compared to the corresponding period in 2017.
During the course of 2018, the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) welcomed 681,197 visitor arrivals – 17,686 more than 2017. Over at the Bridgetown Port Inc. (BPI), the island’s cruise tourism was significantly impacted by the effects of vessel redeployments following on from the hurricanes of 2017. This was due to the fact that Puerto Rico, the primary homeport for US based sailings to the southern Caribbean, was severely affected. However, Barbados has been resilient, and through new homeporting business, saw a performance of 826,267 arrivals for both transit and homeporting visitors combined, tourism officials reported.
“I am delighted by this news and what it says about Barbados’ tourism product,” said Griffith. “It is never easy as a mature tourism destination to maintain growth at these levels in the competitive business landscape in which we operate, but I am pleased that through strategic marketing efforts we have once again proven Barbados’ value as shown by the record number of arrivals at both the air and sea ports throughout 2018.”
Of the five markets, the United States registered the strongest growth with 8.4 per cent, producing 204,830 visitors to the island compared to the 189,022 arrivals in 2017. Other Caribbean followed, contributing 4.6 per cent growth of business with 77,149 arrivals for the year. Canada grew by 1.8 per cent to 86,723 arrivals, and the United Kingdom contributed 1.4 per cent growth of the business, and recorded 225,519 arrivals, compared to the 222,346 recorded in 2017.
Griffith attributed the destination’s noteworthy performance to a number of strategic and integrated marketing initiatives which were deployed across Barbados’ top source markets.
“I must commend our tourism teams both here and in our global offices, whose efforts were instrumental in us achieving this record 2.7 per cent growth. They did a great job individually, and that’s reflected when we look at our overall reporting,” he said.
Griffith also acknowledged the contribution of the new business that the recently opened Sandals Royal located on Maxwell Beach has already brought to Barbados.
Describing the island’s new attractions as “integral” in differentiating destination Barbados, he added: “I am happy to say that a number of new attractions have come on stream – attractions that will differentiate the product offering we have here in Barbados. There’s the Nikki Beach club that opened at Port Ferdinand, and last December we experienced the grand opening of Virgin Holiday’s Departure Beach. The first of its kind, the beachfront departure lounge allows Virgin customers to spend their last moments in paradise.”
Most recently, visitors to Barbados have been able to take a trip back in time and experience riding the railway line from St. Nicholas Abbey and up the picturesque Cherry Tree Hill. The first trip on the Heritage Railway was on January 21, 2019.
Looking ahead, Griffith said: “We are already full-steam ahead with our plans to make sure that 2019 is an equally promising year of growth for Barbados tourism. We have high hopes for our new airline partnerships, new hotel accommodations, new product development, and other new marketing activities in which we will be engaging across our source markets.”
“We have packaged 2019 as the Year of Wellness and Soft Adventure, where we will be highlighting the different accommodations, attractions and activities the island has to offer to support the growing and lucrative wellness industry,” he added. “And I am confident that with all the new festivals and events centered on health and wellness, we will once again be celebrating a record year come January 2020.”