Barbados’ tourism officials are reporting a promising tourism performance for the first eight months of this year.
Chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) Martin Ince told the 30th annual general meeting and luncheon at the Accra Beach Resort, Rockley, Christ Church on Thursday that figures for January to August show long-stay visitor arrivals up by 7.4 per cent.
“[This is] being driven by the United States market, up 16 per cent and Canada, 12 per cent. The UK market this year was flat so far,” Ince reported.
However, the tourism executive noted that in spite of flat performance of the British market so far, the United Kingdom remained this country’s major source for long-stay visitors.
He also revealed there was a 20 per cent year-on-year rise in cruise arrivals for the first eight months.
“Certainly, the winter season will be a very busy one. The airlines are seeing solid bookings. From all reports, the forward bookings are strong,” he said, crediting the TDC for its role in the achieving the increases.
Despite the positive news, the TDC official said the non-profit body, which helps to maintain some tourism related infrastructure, was not happy that contributors had lost some of the tax concessions once granted.
Ince said the TDC deserved greater attention from Government because of its contribution to the growth of tourism.
“We have been lobbying the ministries of finance and tourism for the last two years. We used to get a 150 per cent tax incentive for any contributions made to the TDC and that was reduced to 100 per cent about two years ago.
“We have lobbied to have this reinstated. So I am appealing to the Ministers of Finance and Tourism to please relook reinstating this. The TDC is providing key funding and we are taking pressure from the tourism funding bodies in Barbados,” the TDC chairman contended.
“The TDC is providing critical funding for the tourism product in Barbados. We are working very closely with the [Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.], the [Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association] and the [Barbados Tourism Product Authority] in many, many initiatives,” Ince said.
At the same time, Ince told tourism stakeholders they must continue to raise the bar and reject mediocrity. He called on partners to ensure the country remained world-class.
The meeting was also addressed by representatives from several organizations which benefited from TDC financing and who touted the contributions it has made to tourism revenues.
The presenters included Andre Miller of the Barbados Dive Fest, Barney Gibbs of Enterprise Sea View, Palms on the Highway and the Bridgetown Lamp Refurbishment project, Cicely Walcott of the World Flower arranging show and Mark St Hill of the Barbados Hockey Festival and Hockey Astroturf.