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Tourism uptick not a given


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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BARBADOS’ TOURISM INDUSTRY so far this year has been described as “mixed” by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy.The ups and downs in the first five months of the year, Sealy said, could be seen in skyrocketing arrivals from Canada and the United States but a slide in the number of tourists from the United Kingdom.But as the ministry and the Barbados Tourism Authority cheered the increase in arrivals in May out of the UK, they were concerned about the overall decline in spending by tourists, the minister said. In addition, as they became excited over the introduction of a weekly air service out of Brazil, one that would open up that country’s growing market and raise the possibility of tourists coming from elsewhere in South America – Argentina, for example – they are keeping an eye on developments in the European Union, especially Greece, which in Sealy’s words could “easily pull the entire world’s” economy and financial health “right back down again”.In New York City for the annual Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s week of marketing and promotional events that brought the industry into focus, Sealy was quite clear about the prospects for this year: growth between two and three per cent, a far cry from the declines of 2008 and 2009.“We are holding to our projection for growth this year,” he said.And while that growth may not be enough to return the overall economy to robust expansion, Sealy said there was a changing and positive investment climate and there were hopeful signs that the industry was turning the corner.“There is definitely a desire on the part of investors to get projects in the industry going and that’s a very good sign,” he added. “No longer is it a case of let’s wait and see, it’s now a case of let’s get things going.” (TB)

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