The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) recently released its winter performance results in which an 11 percent increase in American visitors to the island is reported. A total of 49,358 Americans visited the island between Dec. 15, 2003 and April 15, 2004, making for 4,896 more Americans than went to Barbados during the same period last year. This marks the third consecutive year of growth from the American market for Barbados.“This continues a very positive trend that Barbados has been experiencing since 2002,” says Bill Silvermintz, vice president of marketing, The Americas. “At a time when tourism has struggled and many other destinations and industry segments have strived to recapture market share, tourism from the U.S. to Barbados is up more than 20 percent during the last two years combined, excluding winter 2004-05 results.”
Silvermintz attributes the ongoing growth in American travelers to the increased visibility that Barbados has received over the last few years, much of which is credited to the promotional efforts behind the Best of Barbados campaign. Introduced in 2002 and still going strong in 2004, the program offers complimentary room nights, complimentary meals, savings on airfare, rental cars, dining, attractions, and shopping.
In addition to the Best of Barbados promotion, Continental Airlines’ new nonstop service to the island from Newark Liberty International Airport has also played a role in positively impacting tourism to Barbados this winter by growing the number of visitors from New Jersey since the service launched in December 2003.
However, it hasn’t just been more Americans going to Barbados; overall visitation to the island jumped by 12.8 percent this winter to total 208,911 long stay tourists to the island. Although the U.S. accounted for the second largest proportion of visitors to the island with 23.6 percent of all tourists, U.K. visitors made up the largest number of travelers, with 39.6 percent of total arrivals and an increase of 12.3 percent over last year or an additional 9,073 arrivals. Following the U.S., Canadians represent 13.5 percent of total visitors to Barbados this winter or the second largest proportion of visitors. Canadian visitation increased 15.8 percent this winter, which is an added 3,843 arrivals.
Leisure travel to Barbados also increased 12.8 percent or 12,507 additional arrivals to register a total of 130,676 for this winter period compared to same time last year. This market segment accounted for 62.6 percent of total arrivals to the destination. Other market segments showing increased performance were honeymoon, up 13.5 percent and sports, up 46.1 percent. Barbados also experienced a 13.7 percent increase in business travelers this winter, with 1,791 more business travelers than went to Barbados during the same time last year.
The jump in overall visitation to the island effectively touched Barbados’ many lodging facilities; the island’s villas experienced a 32.5 percent increase in business whereas the guest houses saw a 30.8 percent rise in business. Behind that, business to guest apartments went up 22.7 percent and hotels experienced a 10.7 percent increase in business this winter.
The winter performance was further boosted by an additional 67,096 international air seats into the island, representing an increase of 27.8 percent over last winter season. The U.K. increased by 14 percent or an additional 14,971 seats, while the U.S. increased seat capacity by 33,900 seats, Canada by 17,761, and Europe by 460.