Positive but cautious. GIS Barbados
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, gave this outlook for the tourism industry for the remainder of 2021, as she delivered an in depth overview of the tourism industry at a ‘State of the Industry’ media briefing, this morning at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
Referring to the industry as the “bread and butter” of Barbados’ economy, Minister Cummins stated that: “The overall outlook for the sector is positive, yes, but cautious. If I’ve learned anything is, I’m not putting all my eggs in any basket….So all the projections and the optimism that we may have …may go away. So, what we have to do is to plan and mitigate, but also to diversify our base narratives.”
During the ‘State of the Industry’ briefing, a half-year statistical summary was shared regarding tourist arrivals. Ms. Cummins pointed out that tourism dependent economies have had significant double digit declines in gross domestic product as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Barbados was no different.
She added that the island was further impacted by ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano, a freak storm and, most recently, Hurricane Elsa.
To date, Barbados has recorded 21,074 stay over visitors for the period January to July 11, 2021. This represents a significant decrease of 86.9 per cent or 139,476 less visitors when compared to the corresponding period in 2020.
For that period, the United States was the top source market for arrivals to Barbados, with a 49.8 per cent market share, followed by the United Kingdom with 23.4 per cent. Central and South America, Canada, other European countries and the Caribbean rounded up remaining tourist arrivals.
Speaking on increasing inter-regional tourist arrivals, Senator Cummins disclosed that Cabinet had agreed to a 50 per cent reduction in the airport service charge to regional travellers, a move meant to reduce the taxes on inter-regional travel.
Touching on the subject of unemployment in the sector, the Tourism Minister noted that there are 40,000 persons directly and indirectly affected by the reduced numbers of tourist arrivals.
She stressed: “I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to get the sector up and running safely…, and to get visitors coming in and doing the right things and being safe, along with Barbadians doing the right thing at the same time. That must be the perfect match, right now.”
Senator Cummins re-emphasised that if the country did not find the right “marriage” between health protocols and tourism, visitors would go elsewhere and workers in the industry and their families will continue to be impacted. On that note, she urged Barbadians to get vaccinated and to continue to follow the health protocols.
The Tourism and International Transport Minister also reported on seven “hot button” industry segments on which her ministry has been focusing: the Welcome Stamp Programme; the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI); Investment and Accommodation; New Airlifts; the Cruise sector; Grantley Adams International Airport’s Public-Private Partnership and the Tourism Reboot Panel.
BTMI’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, Craig Hinds, noted that tourism has a critical role to play in the stabilisation and recovery of the economy, adding that he believed that a collaborative effort was necessary to recuperate as quickly and smoothly as possible.
To this end, he revealed that the BTMI was working closely with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Grantley Adams International Airport, the Barbados Port Inc., and other key players to make the industry resilient as it navigated “unchartered waters”.