If there was a single phrase to describe this winter tourism season, I think it may be great expectations. Despite all the wild speculation which included ‘this November has been one of the best Barbados had seen in a while’ being made by tourism officials, the month in fact ended by recording the lowest long stay visitors for any November during the last 11 years. It also heralded 20 consecutive months of stay over visitor decline.
As this is the latest in a long line of unfulfilled predictions this year, is it time for our policymakers to focus more attention on what can be achieved, rather than drift into the realms of prophecy and conjecture. I wonder just how much longer we can go on trying to justify rewarding failure. So much is riding on the performance of our tourism sector over the next 120 plus days leading up until next Easter Monday on 22 April, not only in terms of occupancy, but in the critical role of trying to claw back lost revenue from the last almost two lean years.
In our key market, the United Kingdom, traditionally there is a booking surge when tour operators step up their promotional activities on Boxing Day. But one of the largest travel companies, Thomas Cook, pre-empted its competitors by launching a massive sale, two weeks prior to Christmas to tempt the bargain hunters into commitment for summer 2014.