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Tourism not ‘seasonal’

Gercine Carter

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hotelier Jon Martineau says Barbados’ hotels must recognise the tourism season is year-round, and market themselves accordingly.Martineau told the Daily Nation: “We can no longer see tourism as a seasonal type of business, because from an operating standpoint your costs do not go away. So whatever it takes to get the business in the non-peak periods, you have to do it.” The general manager of the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa reported a 70 per cent year-to-date occupancy for that hotel.“One of the factors that has contributed to our situation is that we have a diversified portfolio,” he said. He identified leisure, corporate and group business as the three “niches” through which the hotel had been able to maintain reasonably high levels of occupancy.“Our leisure business is from all over the world, our group business is driven by our local, regional and international clients, and our corporate business is very international,” Martineu stated.And the former president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association cited this diversified portfolio as the hotel’s strength in these difficult economic times.The hotelier said while the 224-room Accra Beach Hotel was owned by Trinidadians, contrary to popular belief its occupancy was not largely Trinidadian. Instead, Martineau said Accra attracted a diverse regional clientele with Jamaica being a good source of business, though Trinidadians constituted the largest number of guests from the region.While  lauding the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s Staycation programme, he pointed out Barbadians had been choosing his hotel for weekend stays for at least nine years – long before the concept became popular. “We have always had Barbadians coming to stay with us, and the good thing about it is that it is a high repeat clientele,” Martineau revealed.However, the former BHTA president noted Accra had seen an increase in Barbadian weekend occupancy with the introduction of the Staycation promotion.