BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -The chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Renee Coppin, says the island needs an estimated 60 000 visitors per month consistently to ensure “healthy” occupancy levels for the expanding accommodation sector.
Coppin told the BHTA’s third quarterly general meeting that while the total tally for summer performance would be announced later this month, she was nonetheless concerned that the performance this time of year remained static.
“My unscientific assessment points to the need for us to maintain arrivals of 60 000 passengers per month, with the current demographic mix and otherwise, to ensure healthy occupancies and performance across the range of our tourism products on the island.
“We are currently only achieving these levels in the winter season, and we can’t sustain the business on four months,” said Coppin, noting that “the last reported arrivals by the Barbados Statistical Service was for June 2023 and that stood at 36 370 passengers.
“So you can see that this is simply not sufficient to feed the supply that we have of accommodation products,” she said, adding that in addition to the larger accommodation segment, other direct tourism service operators, including attractions and restaurants, as well as the shared-economy members and smaller properties have also been reporting weak summer performance.
“The increase in local uptake of what has traditionally been considered tourism products is welcome. However, the results reported across our range of tourism products shows that it is insufficient to sustain the performance of the sector.
We must still ensure that we continue to attract visitors who bring in much needed foreign exchange,” Coppin said.
Barbados is set to get over 1 280 additional rooms in the coming months – from the 422-room Wyndham Grand Sam Lord’s Castle Resort, 131-room Hotel Indigo, 120-room Pendry Barbados, 380-room Hyatt Ziva and the 230-room Royalton Resorts.
Coppin pledged continued support from the BHTA to the efforts of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTM) and other partners in driving airlift to the island in order to ensure hotel rooms are filled and other tourism operators benefit for the upcoming summer periods.
The last 12 months represented a full year of “normalcy” for the tourism industry, coming out of the lockdowns and travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coppin reported that occupancies for May, June, July as per the Smith Travel Research (STR) reports, were 51.2 percent, 48.5 percent and 52.5 percent, respectively, when compared to the 49.6 percent, 49.8 percent and 52.7 percent for the same months last year.
“This shows a relatively static performance for the summer to date. Projections for August from the secretariat survey placed business on the books at 48 percent, which means that we were exactly on pace with the same period last year,” she said.