BRIDGETOWN: Barbados has recorded a record-high number of long-stay visitors for the first half of this year.
The country recorded 303,592 long-stay visitors from January to June, marking the first time in the 29 years of recording tourism statistics that the destination has ever topped 300,000 visitors in the January to June period.
It represents a 14.3 per cent increase in arrivals, or 37,945 more passengers, over the comparative period in 2014.
“This exceptional double-digit performance has been credited as the primary reason for the 0.5 per cent increase in local GDP and comes against the backdrop of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s five per cent growth projection for our region for 2015,” said Alvin Jemmott, chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), during the agency’s second quarterly press conference last week. “It also surpasses the global industry forecast issued by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in January this year for international tourist arrivals to increase by three to four per cent. Indeed, we are even above our own internal target for the year.”
The BTMI chairman said that visitor spend was up by five per cent, although there was a reduction in the average length of stay. In addition, he said that Barbados’s accommodation sector is projected to get an additional 2,300 rooms between this year and 2019.
The local cruise tourism sector performed well during the April to June period, with preliminary figures showing there were 52 cruise ship calls and 115,231 cruise passenger arrivals – an increase of six per cent in calls and 12 per cent in passenger arrivals when compared to the same period in 2014.
BTMI’s chief executive officer, William Griffith, said the agency is working with its partners to ensure Barbados performs similarly during the months ahead, particularly September and October.
Discussions have been held with eight of the BTMI’s airline partners to explore additional cooperative marketing efforts for the upcoming winter season, as well as opportunities to increase the number of available gateways.