Barbados’ tourism sector broke a 25-year record during the first quarter of 2015 to reach 171,471 long stay arrivals. BTMI Chairman, Alvin Jemmott, noted that there were record arrivals in each of the first three months of 2015.

He also extended his congratulations to all industry workers and partners for their steadfast efforts on behalf of the destination.

“This was a very strong winter season. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has predicted a five per cent increase in long stay arrivals for the region for the entire year and we believe our performance in this first quarter bodes well for us to comfortably exceed that target.”

Jemmott attributed this milestone performance to a number of factors including increased airlift capacity negotiated by the BTMI; healthy economic conditions in key markets, a commitment to developing new source markets, Barbados’ strong reputation among its global partners and the agency’s solid promotional strategies for reaching the travel trade, media and consumers in each market.

CEO, William Griffith, revealed that a comprehensive review effort has begun to ensure that the BTMI’s policies support their new mandate as a private entity.

“I am pleased to say that we have begun the process of updating a number of critical polices in the areas of human resources, marketing and finance in keeping with our commitment to increasing employee engagement and productivity; maximizing our return on marketing investment, and achieving greater levels of fiscal prudence.”

In line with these changes, a comprehensive marketing plan featuring traditional and digital marketing programmes has also been developed to guide the organization in resource allocation and monitoring of its various marketing programmes.

Griffith broke down the performance by market, which showed that arrivals from the UK, USA, Canada, and Caribbean and Latin American grew by 12.9 per cent, 27.7 per cent, 28.4 per cent and 10.6 per cent, respectively. Germany also grew by 23.6 per cent.   These strong performances, including a 17.7 per cent rise in arrivals from ‘Other CARICOM’, overshadowed the 2.4 per cent decline in the Trinidad and Tobago market and the dip in arrivals from ‘Other Europe’ by 27.3 percent.

While the cruise sector declined by 6.1 per cent to 217,139 passengers, there was a welcomed increase in home porting, which sees ships purchases goods and services from local dairy, retail and other suppliers.  There is also a trend being observed with smaller ships being replaced by larger vessels, some with the capacity to carry of over 4,000 passengers.

Griffith added that the island’s total airlift capacity for the May 1 – October 31, 2015 summer period was set to rise by 3.6 per cent, largely driven by additional flights and the use of larger aircraft by the island’s airline partners.

The BTMI CEO went on to project a successful summer period for the island, banking on the fact that “there is increasing alignment between our internal operations and structure, and our global strategic marketing efforts.”