During the first six months of 2015 Barbados recorded 303,592 long stay visitors, the first time the destination has ever topped 300,000 visitors in the January-June period in the 29 years of recording air arrivals tourism statistics.
This also represents a 14.3 per cent increase or 37,945 more passenger arrivals over the comparative period in 2014.
Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing, Alvin Jemmott, explained: “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 Organisation’s five per cent growth projection for our region for 2015.
“It also surpasses the global industry forecast issued by the United Nations World Tourism Organization 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,” Jemmott added.
The BTMI chairman also noted that visitor spend was up by five per cent though there was a reduction in the average length of stay.
He cited a number of macro-economic factors including the UK APD adjustments, which took effect during the last quarter; falling unemployment in the US; and lower oil prices reducing the cost of business and improved travel schedules within the Caribbean region.
An economic slowdown in Europe, lower oil receipts in Trinidad and economic challenges in Latin America, he observed, represented the major downsides.
The local cruise tourism continued to hold its own during the period April-June of 2015 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 for the same period in 2014.
The chairman also revealed that Barbados’ accommodation sector is projected to receive new and refurbished plant or 2,300 additional rooms between 2015 and 2019 to the tune of $2 billion.