Looking around Barbados we can see that there has been a turnaround in the tourism sector. There is lots of activity at the airport, our beaches are filled with visitors, hotels reporting 100% occupancy, and restaurants are heavily booked. This week the representatives of the recently restructured Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. also confirmed that the tourism numbers are looking up.
The news is so good and astounding that it is worth repeating here for our column as we congratulate our Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Richard Sealy as well as the Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner. Yet again, the work and the efforts of this DLP administration to strategically restructure and reorganise the economic sectors in Barbados are achieving the desired results.
In 2014 the tourism sector ended the year on a positive note. The sector registered a 2.2% increase in overall visitor arrivals. This is a commendable outcome for a sector which had initially projected a decline of 4% for the year. The performance in the sector for 2014 was amazing and should fill Barbadians with confidence that the economy is turning around and showing strong, positive growth. In December 2014, 61, 128 visitors arrived in Barbados – this figure is the highest for any month since April 2007 when Barbados hosted the Cricket World Cup. So far, the trend of record breaking arrivals is continuing for 2015, with January’s visitor arrivals of 56,132 being the highest for 15 years.
Thanks to the dynamic work of the Minister of Tourism and his team, the tourism numbers are turning around. The efforts by this DLP administration to restructure the former Barbados Tourism Authority and refocus our marketing efforts are paying off.
From coming to office in 2008, Minister Sealy and his team guided the BTA to seek out new markets for the Barbados tourism product. As a result, a push was made for Barbados to enter the Brazil Market. In 2010 Barbados welcomed its first GOL Airlines flight from Brazil. As a new market for Barbados, in 2014 the numbers were up by 18%. We have also seen increases from non-traditional European markets such as Germany, Netherland, Belgium and Italy. These markets have shown increases between seven to 17%.
Even though the BTMI is exploring new markets, we are still aggressively pursuing our traditional markets such as the UK, USA and Canada. These markets ended 2014 with commendable numbers showing that resurgence was occurring. For 2015, the UK is up 15%; Canada is up 27%; and the USA is up 14%, the highest growth in that Market since 2011.
Clearly the change in the approach of the BTMI and the Ministry of Tourism is helping to strengthen the Barbados Tourism product. The creation of new events such as the “Food, Rum and Wine Festival” are not only responsible for bringing numbers to Barbados but also aids in valuable exposure in the markets. Utilising our international super star Rihanna to promote our tourism product has also contributed to this resurgence in our tourism sector.
This administration has also placed a lot of emphasis for having Barbados recognised as an ideal venue for sporting events such as yachting, motor racing, horse racing and this is certainly paying off. When you consider that over 500 people came in for one sporting event – The Mount Gay Round the island race – that is significant.
We are quick to criticise our ministers when things are not going well, but now that they are going in the right direction congratulations are in order and well deserved. Hard work and determination brings success.
“Get Your act together”
It appears that the Opposition Leader has incited her troops to rage war among themselves just to protect her own narrow self- interests.
Out of concern, we ask that the Opposition members get their act together and perhaps draw from the efforts of the Minister of Tourism and try to restructure the Barbados Labour Party.
This constant infighting and lawsuits among the Opposition is really not good for business.
What does the newly “voiced” Women’s league of the Barbados Labour Party have to say about the treatment of their female Member of Parliament, Dr. Maria Agard?