BRIDGETOWN, Barbados. June 1, 2016 – Barbados continues to be a destination in high demand.
Provisional figures shared by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) revealed that arrivals increased 7.4 percent during the first quarter of 2016 when compared to the previous year. This represented some 184,177 visitors compared to 171,413 during the same period last year.
CEO, William Griffith, commended the BTMI’s global team for the work they continue to do in concert with local and international industry partners to keep Barbados top-of-mind among travellers, as well as the travel trade.
“Our team has been placing considerable emphasis on business-to-business (B2B) relationships through training for travel agents and participation in trade shows to update these key partners on the latest product developments taking place on the island.”
This B2B strategy climaxed earlier this month during the gold edition Connect Barbados 50 when more than 900 meetings were held between local tourism partners and 50 leading tour operators.
A breakdown of the figures showed that the island’s airlift growth strategy in the US is paying off with stay over arrivals increasing by 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 from that market. This represented a total of 42,383 visitors compared to the 37,487 visitor arrivals in 2015.
The Canadian market was relatively flat with a 0.8 per cent decline generating 30,675 stay over arrivals. Arrivals out of the UK rose by 10 per cent for the 24th consecutive month to reach 71,263 stay over arrivals.
A sluggish European market performance resulted in a decline of 6.1 per cent representing 13,129 stay over arrivals. Germany, the main producing country, recorded a 7.3 per cent decline to reach just 4,854 visitors.
The Caribbean region continued to be a bright spark with regional travel to Barbados growing by 14.3 per cent. This was led by a 34 per cent increase in travellers arriving from Trinidad and Tobago or 7,210 stay over visitors. Demand out of other Caribbean countries also increased by 6.4 per cent with 14,491 visitors registered.
On the South and Central American front, there was growth of 2.8 per cent totalling 2,930 stay over arrivals compared to 2,849 in 2015. Demand out of Brazil declined significantly by 48.2 per cent to 705 visitors. However, this decline was buoyed by a 49.6 per cent growth in visitors from the remaining South and Central American market when some 2,225 arrivals were recorded.
CEO Griffith confirmed that the BTMI global team was already working toward achieving a strong summer with the Crop Over Festival, romance and family travel featuring prominently in their promotional efforts.
Barbados’ tourism growth has also augured well for the country’s visitor expenditure performance with the sector recording an estimated US $336,757,000 during the first quarter of 2016 based on the CTO conducted visitor exit survey. This represents an increase in total expenditure by stay over visitors of 20 per cent over the same period in 2015 and continues the growth in visitor expenditure experienced in 2015 of 3.7 per cent when compared with 2014.
The growth in visitor expenditure on island in the first quarter was led by the USA market where average daily spend increased by 22 per cent. As a result total visitor spend on island by US visitors increased by 64%, the largest increase both in percentage and absolute terms. On island revenue from those countries categorised as Other and which includes Latin America, Asia, Africa and other smaller markets visitor expenditure increased by 22 per cent, the UK increased by 19%, Canada by 7% and Europe by 1%. The only exception to this performance was the Caribbean market where total visitor expenditure declined by 18%.
Length of Stay
In relation to average length of stay, this metric grew in all markets to achieve a total improvement in length of stay of 15 per cent. The length of stay achieved was 10 nights, compared to 8.7 nights in 2015. The most significant growth achieved was in those countries grouped in the category Other market where length of stay grew by 37.3 per cent. Out of Europe average length of stay grew by 25.6%. From the USA average length of stay grew by 17.1% and out of Canada it grew by 13%, while from the UK average length of stay grew by 12.2%. The Caribbean was the only market in which average length of stay remained unchanged during the first quarter.
Griffith confirmed that confidence had returned within the tourism industry and this was being revealed by the creation of new attractions; improved hotel plant and additional accommodation options; and the strengthening of the island’s digital marketing strategy, led by a new destination website at VisitBarbados.org.
“Based on the reports coming from our tour operators, this is the light at the end of the tunnel. We will continue to work with them and incorporate their feedback, and the suggestions from the visitors themselves, so that we can maintain this growth path.”