Barbados needs an “exceptional” tourism product now

With the realisation that not all visitors to the shores are first-timers, an appeal is going out for work to be done to re-energise the tourism product to keep the interest of repeat visitors and to attract other demographics to the island.

This suggestion came after some statistics revealed that tourists are hopping aboard public transportation and not frequenting the traditional attractions.

At the First Quarterly General Meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) held at Hilton Barbados, CEO Susan Springer revealed that: “2015 closed with an increase of 14% for long stay arrivals over 2014

“The long stay arrivals for the month of January showed a provisional  increase of 11 per cent over 2015 with significant growth in some of the major markets –  20.9 per cent for the United States, 16.5 per cent in the United Kingdom, 16 per cent for Trinidad & Tobago and 70.9 per cent in Central and South America. Thanks to the Avianca flight out of Columbia. Canada was flat at 0.8 per cent increase and a decline of 49 per cent from Brazil.

“Attractions are reporting flat to five per cent increase in numbers and revenue across the winter period with a quieter January and strong February.

“Restaurants and car rentals sales have been strong.”

Against this background, Chairman of Sun Group Inc., Bernard ‘Bernie’ Weatherhead reminded that Barbados does not have a patent on beaches, and beaches are a dime a dozen, therefore a push must be made to give “real value for money”.

Asserting that “an exceptional product is easy to sell,” he wants all Barbadians to put their hands to the plough.

He said there must be greater education of citizens about tourism and its importance because this is “a very competitive business”, while training staff on the industry as well.

Weatherhead said it will take contributions “from all of us, government and private sector working closely together to make this happen, and civil service.”

He said, “we need to have our airport and seaport offering ease of access, obviously with security. We need to control crime for our residents and our visitors… We have to deliver an exceptional product to make it real value. To this end we need the assistance of the government and civil service to approve projects to make sure that we have no bottlenecks in getting our materials and goods with concessions from the ports. We need government to follow through on promises made regarding concessions to make sure that they are made available.”

And to those who cry that “those hoteliers always want everything”, he firmly dispelled that notion stating, “we must upgrade, upgrade, upgrade.”

Weatherhead also commended restaurateurs for rising to the challenge and providing creative and exceptional experiences for guests.

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