The following article is written by Adrian Loveridge, who asks questions about the tourism statistics being tossed about by an election-ready government. Adrian had nothing to do with the title of this piece “Is Government Lying About Barbados Tourism Statistics?” – that’s what we came up with after pondering the questions put forth by Mr. Loveridge.
Take it away, Adrian…
I’m puzzled, really puzzled!
Under a CBC TV headline ‘Williams says robust growth in tourism’, Central Bank Governor, Dr Marion Williams reported a 4.4 per cent expansion in the Barbadian economy for the first nine months of the year ‘fuelled largely by robust growth in tourism’.
This follows an article that appeared in the Barbados Advocate, Wednesday 24th October 2007, quoting figures which the newspaper stated had been supplied by the Barbados Statistical Service and referring to a ‘whopping 18 per cent increase’ in visitor arrivals for the first seven months of this year.
I have made repeated applications to the BBS to obtain these figures but despite acknowledgments of my request, have still not received them.
Log-on to the BBS website and you will see that even after hosting ‘the World’s third largest sporting event’ that we finished the first four months of 2007 (our peak period) with a net gain of just 44 long stay visitors.
So according to the Advocate and the Central Bank this ‘robust growth’ been in the traditional soft summer months.
Yes! There was crop over, but if you look at the stated figures, both arrivals from Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of CariCom were substantially down.
Dr Williams dismisses the 140% increase in airport departure tax as having any major effect on the dramatic fall in intra-Caribbean travel, and instead cites the historically highest ever regional airfares.
In reality, I believe it’s a combination of both.
And if long stay visitor arrival numbers were really doing so well, why would our national marketing agency, the Barbados Tourism Authority, increase the taxpayer subsidy on Best of Barbados packages from US$200 to US$300?
With the complimentary hotel night stays and daily breakfast, there is in fact, little or no national revenue gain for this programme.
You also only have to check with some of our larger hotels to discover that many staff have been working reduced hours and/or days per week.
Please, don’t anyone take my word for it, but I hope the BFP and BU readers who work in the tourism industry will report from their perspective.
1st November 2007