The following report is based on interviews conducted on Februay 3rd 2010 with leaders in the Tourism Sector in Barbados. The mood is one of cautious optimism with an underpinning realisation that the world has indeed changed and we need to position the industry for the new realities.

Barbados Tourism Authority’s View:

  • The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) is pressing ahead with its strategic re-organisation scheduled for this year. It will be split into two entities. One dealing only with Marketing the other dealing only with Strategic Product Development in the Tourism Sector. Previously the BTA, which has responsibility for both areas, had little time or resources to dedicate to the important area of Tourism Product Development. With the right team and governance structure in place, the Tourism Product Development entity can add great value to the Barbados Tourism Value Proposition. This is an important investment in the long term strategic development of the Tourism Sector. Hopefully it will be professionally managed and allowed to function and deliver tangible results.
  • Arrivals from the USA (up 35% in last 90 days) and Canada are doing well and growing. This is attributed to more seats available from more locations as well as better marketing initiatives. Loss of seats from the UK and other complicating issues in that market have put some pressure on the arrivals from the UK.
  • Generally there is downward pricing pressure (more value for same or lower price) but some speculate that this will improve later this year. This will depend on the state of the global economic recovery.
  • The BTA is focusing on trying to help hotels by improving arrivals but recognises that it is going to be a tough year for some hotels. On a longer term basis, the issue of what hotels can operate profitably while surviving in a changing world will be an issue, bearing in mind the Barbados cost structure.

Source: Ralph Taylor, Chairman Barbados Tourism Authority on 03/02/2010

Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s View:

Performance In The Hotel Accommodation Sector

  • January arrivals 5% better than same period in 2009 but still less than January 2008. This trend is expected to continue for the remainder of the high season but bookings are coming in very late (sometimes with just a week’s notice). Canada and USA markets have improved due to airlift but the opposite is the case out of the UK where airlifts have declined.
  • Too early to predict the summer.
  • Repeat clients spending less on food & beverage(e.g.eating out less and buying cheaper wines), car rentals etc. The spending mood is cautious. Some restaurants that offer value(not necessarily low prices)are doing well on the south and west coasts.
  • Market intelligence suggests that 2010 will be a “tactical” year with innovation required to stimulate sales. It will be a hard slog.

Union Negotiations

  • The current contract with the Barbados Worker’s Union expired on 15 December 2009. A one year moratorium on wage increases has been agreed pending a new contract. Wellness, safety, night work etc. are being reviewed to provide workers with better and safer work environments.
  • A pilot ‘pay for performance’ scheme started in January 2010 with the help of The Barbados Productivity Council.
  • The negotiations are being conducted in a collaborative spirit.

Crime

  • The Commissioner Of Police has indicated that there has not been an increase in crimes against tourists.

Source: Sue Springer, CEO Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association on 03/02/2010

Cruise Sector View

  • Cruise ship arrivals for 2009 were 778,000 (up from about 715,000 in 2008).
  • For the 2010/11 cruise season (mid-October to mid-May) about 850,000 arrivals expected.
  • Tourists are spending less per diem on land tours and other ancillary attractions and at retail outlets.
  • No new attractions are planned(to replace some that shut down in 2009). Existing ones are concentrating on survival rather than expansion.
  • Barbados Port has invited expressions of interest for a port expansion project with a planned completion date for the season 2011 including a new pier.

Source: Martin Ince, Foster & Ince CruiseWorld on 03/02/10

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