Nation e-Edition

Tourism on the up

Tourism on the up Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy

By Mike King | Tue, October 12, 2010 - 12:05 AM

IN A YEAR full of challenges, Barbados’ tourism has done well under the circumstances, says Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy.

Speaking at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) leadership strategy conference yesterday at Hilton Barbados, Sealy said he was pleased with what had been a testing year for the sector.

“We have done well under the circumstances. That is my assessment of the situation. I am not saying that everyone agrees with me, but certainly to be up . . . four per cent [at this point] and to have seen increases in [arrivals from] Canada, the United States, and some increase in the Caribbean even though there were some declines in that area.

“We have also had some encouraging forward bookings for Germany. Europe is looking up a bit and we have introduced Brazil, and that is way up,” he said.

Sealy said he was delighted that British Airways chief executive officer Willie Walsh had brought the air passenger duty (APD) tax issue to the fore at the conference.

Walsh lambasted the British government for the APD increase, which has impacted on British travel to the Caribbean.

To meet Chancellor

“He is going to be meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne in another two weeks, so he can get access to many of the key decision makers, and we are hoping that we see the APD looked at in a very serious way as we go forward.

“Unfortunately, we are in October now and we haven’t heard anything, so we are going to presume the November increases will go ahead and therefore it means we have to dig in for a long fight in terms of dealing with this APD situation,” Sealy said.

Sealy told the DAILY NATION the turnaround in the sector was significant after the disappointment of last year when there was an almost nine per cent decline. He said aggressive marketing had been one of the planks for the revival.

“Government put in resources in some key areas . . . The airlift strategy has worked, specifically where JetBlue and West Jet are concerned.

“The UK market, which could have virtually collapsed, has actually held its own. A lot of the repeat business we have been getting out of the UK has worked to our advantage. There are a combination of things that have allowed us to make a turnaround.”

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