Tourism revenue in 2017 was $1.2 billion, despite record numbers in long-stay and cruise ship arrivals, and Prime Minister Mia Mottley has questioned that level.
Addressing industry stakeholders Wednesday, she insisted the sector was capable of a more productive performance and challenged tourism planners to increase arrivals to one million and achieve a target of $4 billion in revenue by 2023.
She noted that while Barbados recorded 663 441 long-stay visitors and 818 752 cruise visitors in 2017, the earnings of $1.2 billion could not compare to 2007’s $2.3 billion. If this level of tourism earnings had remained constant, the Prime Minister suggested it could have reached at least $3.5 billion by this time.
“A country cannot have gone through a whole decade and be earning less from its primary sector,” she said, in her first address to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association at its annual general meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
A packed, hushed room listened attentively as the Prime Minister signalled her intention to bring together industry stakeholders and involve workers at all levels to achieve the goal of making Barbados the No. 1 destination in the world.
She advised that Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds would be taking the lead role in organising two days of meetings with all the workers at Grantley Adams International Airport within the next few weeks.
“The simple mission of our meeting is how do we make the visitor experience and the returning experience for Barbadians the best experience in the hemisphere, if not the world, at Grantley Adams International Airport.”
She said issues at the Bridgetown Port would also be addressed “with the same drive and attitude”.
Addressing an audience that represented diverse sectors of the tourism industry, Mottley added: “If we don’t get those two ports of entry correct, then most of what we are doing is compromised by the time we get to you and the rest of the visitor experience.” (GC)