Sealy: Tourism numbers still lagging

Former Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy says while he is happy that occupancy numbers are trending upwards ahead of the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup in Barbados, he is yet to be convinced of a plan by local officials to sustain these numbers. 

In response to last week’s report from the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), which showed a 13 per cent increase in room occupancy three weeks ahead of the major sporting event, Sealy said the current numbers and future projections should by no means come as a surprise.

However, he charged that the sector still lagged behind several of its regional neighbours, noting there was no indication of a plan to sustainably boost numbers during the shoulder period. He also said it was left to be seen whether the monies expended in preparation for the World Cup would be justified at the end. 

“This is the soft period and we normally around this time of year, coming off winter, tend to get the occupancies going down a little. I gather from the reports that the forward bookings are looking good, and you would expect that with an event like the T20 World Cup. If the bookings were not good, then something would have to be wrong. My concern is that it should not take an extraordinary event for us to see an uptick in numbers, based on what is happening in the rest of the region,” Sealy said. 

During the quarterly media briefing last week, chief executive officer of the BHTA, Ryan Forde, said based on their figures extracted from projections early this month for June, there would be an increase in occupancies over the same period last year as well as those of June 2019.

He said the expected June performance was a 55 to 60 per cent occupancy for the hotel sector and 55 per cent for the villa sector.

“It is a better June for most of the membership than typical years, as . . . June and September tend to be very weak periods,” Forde said. 

In her report, chairman Renee Coppin said: “While we are pacing 13 per cent ahead of last year at the same time and already have surpassed the 48.3 per cent that we reported for that month in 2023, clearly, we would have liked that number to be higher.

However, Sealy told a Nation team he was seeing some positive moves since the appointment of Andrea Franklin as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI).

“I am happy to hear that they are bringing that arrangement with Cayman Airways to an end. It should have never started in the first place.

“I want to commend Andrea Franklin for doing it, she is a wonderful choice for CEO. I want her to take an overall look at the airlift situation, the fact that we have lost seats out of the UK for example,” the former minister said. 

“We need to get tourism back where it needs to be and not just wait for a world-class event such as the World Cup to get a bump in numbers. We are talking about an industry that has to get us out of this mess that we are in economically. The numbers are not a surprise based on the nature of the event. My concern is the sustainability of the sector after the World Cup with tourism,” Sealy said.

The post Sealy: Tourism numbers still lagging appeared first on

Leave a Reply