BARBADOS has enjoyed a “good year” as far as tourism numbers are concerned, despite the many challenges the industry faced.
That’s the report card given by chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA),?Ralph Taylor, who said that 15 000 more long-stay visitors had travelled to the island up to the end of October.
“That represents a 3.8 per cent increase over the corresponding period for 2009 and with the worldwide global economic recession, this must be considered a “good year”, Taylor told the MIDWEEK NATION.
The overall number of longstay visitors rose from 418 578 to 434 316.
“This increase was largely as a result of the measures we have put in place, including the sourcing of increased airlift, including JetBlue, the second Condor and the tapping into the Brazilian market,” Taylor explained.
Additionally, he said the Canadian market had performed “tremendously well”, recording a 23 per cent increase in arrivals, moving from 47 694 between December 2008 and the end of October 2009, to 58 612 for the corresponding period ending in October 2010.
The United States market also showed a significant 15 per cent increase from 95 533 to 110 300.
“We had the low cost WestJet operating out of Canada seven days a week, and we also advertised heavily in the North American market,” the BTA chairman said in the telephone interview.
He also said there were encouraging signs out of Europe although the main British market did show a decline of 6.6 per cent, falling from 156 316 longstay visitors to 145 961.
“I would say that overall we have weathered the storm well, particularly when matched against other popular Caribbean destinations,” Taylor said.
He expected even bigger growth in the upcoming year – probably greater than five per cent – as the BTA prepared to launch another aggressive multimillion dollar marketing campaign.
Among other projects is an enhanced “friends and family programme” in which those visitors who have been travelling to the island for several years would be encouraged to bring along family and friends.
There will also be greater emphasis on sports tourism from hockey and cricket to dominoes and polo, as well as watersports. Taylor also noted that last month’s
Food, Rum And Wine Festival was also a big success in its first year, and should be even bigger next year.
“We have been holding meetings with all of our tourism partners, and I feel satisfied that with our enhanced programme, we can expect an even better 2010-2011 tourism year,” Taylor said.