Around this time of the year it is difficult not to spare a few thoughts for all those involved in tourism, directly or otherwise, who sacrifice their quality precious time with family to take care of our visitors over the Christmas period. Of course they are not alone with other sectors including the essential services assuming the same responsibility. As someone, through work commitments, who has only celebrated a personal Christmas four times during the past 40 years, my thanks and admiration to you all for your dedication.
There have been many predictions and projections made recently about an anticipated increase in long stay visitors in 2015 when compared with this year. A figure of a 6 per cent rise has been quoted, but I would caution all tourism partners against any complacency they may be lured into. With hopefully Sandals Casuarina re-opening on schedule at the end of January and maintaining an optimistic 90 per cent occupancy level before any rooms are added, this would attract around 24,000 visitors, based on two persons sharing and an average 7 night stay before year end.
According to CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organisation) statistics, Barbados recorded a total of 508,520 stay over visitors in 2013, which was a 5.2 per cent decline when compared with the 2012 figures. Therefore factoring in the potential Sandals and an overall 6 per cent rise would only produce a net gain of 6,500 visitors spread across every other accommodation provider.