Last updated: 11:00 AM ET, Wed June 08 2016

Strong Barbados Arrivals Growth Continued in First Quarter

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | June 08, 2016

Strong Barbados Arrivals Growth Continued in First Quarter

Photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

Barbados is steadily rebuilding its one-time popularity among American vacationers following a strong 2015 season. In fact, the country’s tourism minister recently described it as “a turnaround year.”

First-quarter 2016 arrivals on the southern Caribbean island increased 7.4 percent year-over-year, totalling 184,177 visitors compared with 171,413 during the same period last year, according to data from Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI).

After years of declining arrivals from the U.S., American travelers are now leading Barbados’ visitor boom over the past two years. The country’s overnight, land-based visitor arrivals from the U.S. increased 13 percent in the first quarter of 2016, totaling 42,383 visitors compared with 37,487 one year ago.

William Griffith, BTMI’s chief executive, attributed Barbados’ growing U.S. success to stronger air links via increased deployment from major airlines including Delta and JetBlue, as well as a focus on partnership with U.S.-based travel agents and tour operators.  

“Our team has been placing considerable emphasis on business-to-business relationships through training for travel agents and participation in trade shows,” said Griffith. The initiatives are designed to “update these key partners on the latest product developments taking place on the island.”

READ MORE: How to Travel to Barbados on a Budget

Other strong 2016 markets for Barbados include the United Kingdom, which posted a 10 percent first quarter 2016 increase to 71,263 overnight arrivals. First quarter 2016 travel to Barbados from within the Caribbean increased by 14.3 percent, led by the dual-island nation of Trinidad & Tobago, which generated a 34 percent increase.

Conversely, visitor arrivals from Europe declined 6.1 percent while arrivals from Brazil plunged by 48.2 percent. Brazil’s steep drop was tempered somewhat by Barbados’ 49.6 percent growth in visitors from other South and Central American countries.

Barbados also recorded growth in visitor spending in early 2016, with an estimated total overnight visitor expenditure of $336,757,000 during the first quarter of 2016, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) visitor exit surveys cited by BTMI officials. The figure represents a 20 percent increase over the same period in 2015 and was led by a 22 percent increase among U.S visitors.

Average length of stay among Barbados visitors also increased in the first quarter of 2016, totaling 10 nights compared with 8.7 nights in 2015. Average length of stay among the U.S. market grew by 17.1 percent.

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