The year 2015 was a stellar one for Barbados??? tourist industry.
During a press conference on the state of the industry today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, revealed that long-stay arrivals grew by 13.7 per cent, which translated into some 591,892 persons visiting the island during the period.
He indicated that this was the highest number ever recorded and attributed the turnaround in the sector to a combination of factors, which focused on the diversification of the source markets.
This included the establishment of new gateways out of Boston via JetBlue; Bogota and Colombia via Avianca; as well as a new Thomas Cook service out of Glasgow. The Minister also explained that the sector benefited from the introduction of a twice weekly Delta service out of Atlanta and New York and the switch by Air Canada to a B777 aircraft.
???Delta returned with two flights out of Atlanta and NY weekly???that is actually four flights a week. It was a good move considering the [fact that] American Airlines now brings passengers from New York through Miami???. Jet Blue also launched a Mint service out of New York. Initially it was a winter operation but is now operating weekly year-round. The Mint service is a tremendous accomplishment,??? he stated.
Mr. Sealy also attributed the growth of the sector to improved room inventory at hotels and an increase in cruise arrivals. He indicated that cruise arrivals increased by 5.1 per cent. The Tourism Minister was adamant that Government would do its best to sustain the performance of the tourism sector.
He mentioned the establishment of a new European Department; the launch of a new destination website; the hosting of Barbados??? leading global tour operators during an upcoming Connect Barbados 50 event; as well as marketing efforts targeting the diaspora. Initiatives will also include more efforts with community tourism.