THE UNITED KINGDOM (UK) remains Barbados’ largest source market for tourists, but new research is suggesting that tourism officials should try to find out why fewer Brits have been visiting the island.
The recommendation came in a new analysis from local economics research firm Antilles Economies, which examined theories on why Barbados has had fewer British visitors in recent years.
Antilles Economics managing director Stacia Howard and associate Jael Billy observed that “one of indirect effects of the global financial crisis on Barbados has been a reduction in visitor arrivals”.
They pointed out that “while arrivals from all of Barbados’ main source markets felt the impact, the British market has been particularly hard hit: not only has the total number of visitors declined, but visitor expenditure has also plummeted”.
They examined some “prevailing theories” on why the declined had occurred, including “the UK recession and the rise of staycation”, “the increase in air passenger duty (APD)”, and “the gap in the family-oriented package holiday market”.
In terms of the first theory, Howard and Billy said that “as players in the Barbados tourism industry consider how to lure the Brits back, they should take into consideration whether value for money is now a higher priority concern for this market and what that could mean for their business”.
In the case of the APD, which has now been reduced for travel to long-haul destinations like Barbados, they said “tourism planners and hoteliers should take this opportunity to market Barbados as a more cost-effective location”, which would “involve ensuring that the facilities and infrastructure can accommodate consumers’ tastes and offer value for money in comparison with rival destinations”.
In terms of the third theory, they stated: “Although all indicators suggest that challenges faced in the all-inclusive market are being rectified, in the fickle global tourism market, is it a little too late?” (SC)