Pray for cold weather in the UK, Canada and the USA, but not bad enough to disrupt travel!
With a little more than two weeks before the start of what may become one of the most defining tourism winter seasons in our recent history, many are left just to guess at what will happen.
Yes of course you can draw some comparisons with forward direct bookings, but with a heavy dependence on tour operator driven business for a high proportion of our hotels it is far more difficult to make any accurate predictions.
Clearly a number of factors have negatively affected the industry’s performance, and to put in perspective, I think it’s important to study the figures…
For the four years from, 2008 – 2011, we (Barbados), averaged 546,533 long stay visitor arrivals each year. In the previous four years, 2004 – 2007, the average was 558,632. Simply put, that’s a decline of nearly 50,000 visitors over the comparable periods.
Arguments could of course be made, and have in some quarters, that the average stay has increased – but without directly comparing this over a sustained period it is almost irrelevant. And it becomes totally meaningless unless average spend has risen faster than the number of nights our accommodation offerings are occupied.
Certainly the steep reduction in arrivals from our largest market, the UK, would not have helped this equation. Without this critical information, it’s simply speculation about the overall performance of the industry and that does absolutely nothing to help devise meaningful solutions.
So perhaps, at least our winter destiny, might be in the hands of climatic conditions, with weather bad enough to stimulate travel, but not to disrupt it. Nor does the possibility of exceptionally cold spells in our source markets give us divine right to expect increased arrival numbers.
Without any coherent ‘national’ marketing campaign in place that directly converts destination interest into solid bookings at desirable rates, the industry is left to flounder on its own using any resources that it can individually muster to make a difference. Of course, an increasing number of tourism partners already practice this policy, preferring at least to try and control their own destiny. Continue reading