Sealy upbeat about arrivals
BARBADOS is on course to setting a new benchmark in stay over tourist arrivals, surpassing the 2007 figures of nearly 366 000.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy told the House of Assembly on Wednesday night that so far this year stay over arrivals had reached 365 745.
He was responding to a suggestion by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) that the country must increase its stay over arrivals by at least ten per cent because anything less would be unacceptable.
“The numbers for 2011 are actually on track to be a benchmark year,” Sealy said, “that is to say, right now, year-to-date, what we are seeing in terms of numbers, 365 745 tourists have visited Barbados so far … . At that rate, we will surpass even the 2007 number, not 2000, and that will make it the new benchmark year for numbers of visitors arriving in Barbados.”
The minister noted that for the first week in August, there was a 21.4 per cent increase in stay over arrivals.
Speaking during debate on the 2011 Budget, Sealy said Barbados has a unique tourism offering and “we need to work on it and get it right”.
On the question of the need for investment in the sector, Sealy said that in the decade and a half before he became minister in 2008, there was investment in villas but not much in bringing visitors here.
“We have been dealing with a situation that has been quite challenging, and in the face of what we have had to deal with, we have done quite well. Two thousand and nine was a decline year, and we brought back the numbers in 2010.”
Sealy added: “If these numbers don’t transpose into improvements to the Barbadian society, I want no part of them.”
The minister cautioned the Opposition, however, that it must not attempt to compare a 50-year-old mature destination with some of the emerging tourism destinations which had far better arrivals.
“There is no point picking up the list of [Caribbean Tourism Organization] members and say . . . . St Eustatius improved their arrivals by 40 per cent. If they were getting 100 people before and they got 140, that is a 40 per cent increase.”
Sealy said the precise reason Barbados was trying to increase arrivals was because the length of stay has decreased from its source markets.
He also pointed to a recent survey of destinations by the Economist newspaper around the world and Barbados again was featured as being the sixth most effective at extracting spend per tourist.
“It means that we are doing something right in that respect,” Sealy observed. (AB)