Tourism arrivals in Barbados declined by eight percent between January and April, mirroring the performance of the region and the world.

This was revealed today by Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Ralph Taylor, at a press briefing held to provide an up-date on the performance of the industry for 2008-2009.

Mr. Taylor noted that for the first quarter of the year, worldwide tourism arrivals declined by 8 percent while the Caribbean was down by 8.6 percent. He added that the region had a mixed performance and said: ???Of the 22 countries reporting, nine countries in the region showed double digit declines of between 10 percent and 25 percent.???

Acknowledging that that there had been positive growth of 4.7 percent from cruise passengers during the same period, he said: ???Looking back on 2008, long-stay visitor arrivals declined marginally by 1percent when compared to 2007. We enjoyed the benefits of Cricket World Cup, which helped to enhance the arrivals of that year.?? In 2008, Barbados also recorded its highest foreign exchange earnings, a record BDS $ 2.4 billion, when compared to the rest of the region and the world, with very few exceptions, Barbados performed admirably.?????

It was also pointed out that in order to achieve this; a number of initiatives were put in place to minimise the possible reduction in the country???s tourism arrivals. ???The foundation of these initiatives was an increased marketing budget from Government from $80 to $100 million dollars. This enabled the BTA to enhance its marketing effort,??? said the BTA Chairman.

He also alluded to continued efforts in the media in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to market the island, as well as the thrust to support airlift out of these territories. He said: ???2009 is not business as usual. It calls for an aggressive approach in 2008??? an integrated strategy??? and it demands a better evaluation of our business mix and target markets.???

Today???s press briefing was also attended by David Rice, the newly-appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the BTA and Austin Husbands, Deputy Chairman of the BTA.?? According to the BTA, it was the start of regular briefings to engage Barbadians on tourism and its importance to the economy in this global recession.

Further meetings are expected to include the Ministry of Tourism and other key stakeholders in the industry.

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