We have to do more than hope
Once leaving August behind, we enter what is traditionally the most challenging periods in tourism terms.
Historically, the month that experiences the least number of arrivals of the year is September.
September 2012 recorded just 27,230 long stay visitor arrivals, the lowest number in any month for the past ten years. A decline of 6.6 per cent over the same period in 2011.
Given our already dramatically reduced airlift, with an average of just 907 passengers per day, it will result in flying hundreds of empty airline seats daily, or in fact thousands by month end. Once the plane has taken off, clearly these seats cannot be sold twice the next day.
From an accommodation perspective, even if all these 27,230 persons stayed in a licensed hotel and the average stay was 7 nights with two per room, that still only fills less than 2,000 rooms – against a total that is often quoted of between 5,000 and 6,000. This of course, does not take into account all the apartments, villas. condominiums and any unregistered accommodation providers.
It also helps explain why several hotels and restaurants decide to close during September for annual holidays, refurbishment or simply to curtail operational costs.
September, perhaps, would have been the most logical month to roll-out the proposed APD Voucher, but this could have only possibly influenced one main market – the United Kingdom. As I have to submit this column a few days before publication, perhaps details of the voucher conditions will be announced in the interim.
So should the industry simply lay down and accept the current trend of falling visitor numbers?
Under the current fiscal challenges, we cannot afford to, so it becomes an imperative to look for other creative ways to achieve a positive difference. Continue reading