Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Fri November 13 2015

Airlift And Resort Expansion Driving Barbados' Tourist Arrivals Growth

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | November 13, 2015

Airlift And Resort Expansion Driving Barbados' Tourist Arrivals Growth

PHOTO: Sandals Barbados is among the country’s newest resorts. (Photo by Brian Major)

Barbados’ campaign to recapture its former popularity among American leisure travelers is gaining traction. Travel to the southern Caribbean island is rebounding strongly this year after years of decline, and the country’s tourism officials are crediting new resort properties and expanded airlift with driving that growth.

By nearly every measure, including land and sea arrivals, airlift and resort openings – Barbados is reporting positive developments. Barbados recorded 432,713 overnight visitors through September, a 14.5 percent increase over 2014; arrivals from the U.S. increased by 27.9 percent during the period.

Cruise ship arrivals will increase by five to seven percent through September, driven by 16 inaugural visits, said William Griffith, CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI). Last week JetBlue Airways premiered its Mint premium service between Barbados and New York, and also launched new direct service from Boston. Sandals Barbados, which opened earlier this year, will additional 220 rooms in 2016. 

“This year we have seen growth in all of the major areas of importance, including airlift, accommodations, and programmes to enhance the quality of our tourism product,” Griffith said. “We are also enjoying favorable global economic conditions in several key source markets, the price of oil is down and travelers are gaining greater confidence and now booking further in advance.”

This year Barbados’ airlift has increased by seven percent over 2014, said Griffith. In addition to the expanded JetBlue service Avianca will inaugurate new service to Barbados from Bogota, Columbia on Dec. 2. The new flights will permit connections between Barbados and Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Panama City, Lima, San Salvador, Guayaquil and Quito.

Barbados’ hotel and resort base is also expanding. In addition to the Sandals expansion, two more all-inclusive properties, the Sugar Bay Hotel and The Sands, are scheduled to open adding another 300 new rooms, said Griffith. 

In addition, Wyndham Hotel Group recently announced a renovation of historic Sam Lord’s Castle site for a new 450-room resort that will open in 2018. Another Hyatt Hotels property will open in Barbados’ historic capital of Bridgetown that same year, said Griffith. “In addition, 24 hotels have undergone significant refurbishments in time for the 2016 winter season,” he said.

Griffith said BTMI will seek to continue Barbados’ newfound tourism growth. “We’ve just completed a brand positioning exercise wherein all of our future marketing campaigns will capitalize on our reputation as a safe, engaging and culturally rich destination, all of the ingredients sought by the contemporary traveler,” he said. 

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