The 2017 winter tourist season officially begins today and tourism officials are predicting an even better performance next year.
Reporting to the fourth quarterly meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association on Wednesday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, chief executive officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Rudy Grant, predicted “an exciting year”.
Grant expects the industry to build on the soaring visitor arrival numbers for 2017, which were up in two of the major source markets.
“Visitor arrivals between the period January to October and overall long stay arrivals increased by 6.46 per cent. Major growth was in the USA market – 14.2 per cent, Canada was 9.8 per cent and we saw the United Kingdom somewhat flat, a growth of 0.7 per cent,” Grant said.
In the cruise sector, passenger arrivals rose by 18.9 per cent.
Grant said the increase in long-stay visitor arrivals was being supported by more airlift coming out of the main source markets, but said with this boost, support services at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) needed to be improved.
Meanwhile, BHTA chairman Roseanne Myers said businesses taking advantage of visitors arriving on cruise and stay packages and tours, were already seeing “throngs” of people.
But she expressed concern that while marketing efforts were bearing fruit, issues that negatively affected tourism were not being addressed.
Myers said Barbados’ tourism product needed to be protected.
She also cited the long wait for passengers arriving at GAIA, which she said was “still not acceptable”, and the sewage problems along the South Coast had “actually gotten worst”.
“The reputation of the destination is at stake, the viability of our businesses is at stake and we have fought hard to ensure that the health of all users is protected. We must and can do better.” (GC)