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Hot winter, cool summer for Barbados tourism


Gercine Carter

Hot winter, cool summer for Barbados tourism
BHTA chairman Renée Coppin was "super pleased" that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed further - FP

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The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) says the 2021/22 winter season is shaping up to be the best since the disastrous 2018.

According to BHTA chairman Renee Coppin, occupancy figures as reported by members grew from 66 per cent at the start of the winter season last December and reached close to 75 per cent by February.

With the season officially scheduled to end on April 15, Coppin said it was anticipated that the final performance report would show an overall strong performance for the 2021/22 winter season, when the influx of visitors for last month’s cricket matches was factored in.

However she warned the industry could not rest on those laurels, since the island was facing a “challenging” summer season.

Speaking during the BHTA’s quarterly media briefing at Infinity on the Beach hotel yesterday,  Coppin said based on members’ reports coming in to the BHTA, summer occupancy averaged only about 30 per cent and this was worrisome.

“We are going into a summer period where a lot of us do not have the necessary cash reserves. We have exhausted all the reserves we do have and so we are very mindful of the fact that this summer really is going to matter in terms of the survivability of many of our businesses  and many of our members,” Coppin said.

She announced the BHTA planned to engage Government in dialogue about the current entry protocols, as she noted that several countries in the region had removed testing requirements for fully vaccinated guests, while two of them had removed testing requirements altogether. In addition, some destinations had also removed mask mandates, something that already been done in some of Barbados’ main source markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

She told the media: “We have requested to meet with the relevant stakeholders and authorities to have a discussion and to ask that they review all protocols as we go forward, to ensure that they are delivering the intended results.”

Coppin added that as demand over the coming months declined, Barbados’ tourism sector had to be mindful “in ensuring that we are getting our fair share of the pie”.

The BHTA chairman also called for the Tourism Development Act to be revisited so that smaller businesses and certain other operators in the sector could also benefit from some of the concessions granted in the legislation. (GC)