More Barbados Tourism Growth
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Barbados is feeling bullish about the coming tourist season and reporting across-the-board growth in the industry for 2016.
Speaking at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s annual State of the Industry Conference, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s CEO William Griffith revealed the island’s latest arrival figures, which are up 5.3 percent and totaled 421,914 between January and August 2016. Griffith said that the BTMI is confident that the island will surpass the annual arrivals record set in 2015 of 591,000 visitors, forecasting that it will welcome 600,000 arrivals in 2016 – the highest number in history.
Visitor spend is also up, currently at $867 million, which is a four percent increase from 2014.
“The trend in spend is encouraging,” Griffith said, noting that estimates for the first quarter of 2016 are $337 million, an increase of 16.6 percent.
There will also be increased airlift to the island for the winter season.
JetBlue is doubling its service from Boston to twice-weekly, and will continue once-weekly service year-round after the season has ended. The airline’s weekly direct service from Newark, N.J. starts in November. British Airways will offer 13 flights a week into Barbados, and, from December 2016, Air Canada will operate 10 weekly flights into the island, offering a total of 11,629 seats.
Cruise arrivals January through June 2016 are also up, Griffith reported, totaling 340,043 during the period.
In the hotel sector, the island is projecting the addition of 2,300 new or refurnished rooms by the end of 2019.
Griffith noted the addition of several new accommodations in the last few months, including all-inclusive hotels Waves Hotel & Spa (which opened this week) and Sugar Bay Barbados. He said that the Sands Hotel is scheduled to open in early 2017, and that the former Sam Lord’s Castle will reopen as the 450-room Wyndham Grand Barbados in 2018. Griffith also pointed to Sandals Barbados’ addition of 222 rooms, scheduled to be complete by winter 2017.
Barbados celebrates 50 years of independence next month, and has designated 2017 the Year of Sport.