WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — Following six years of recessionary conditions, Barbados' tourism sector is on a strong growth path, due to increases in hotel rooms and long-stay and cruise arrivals, according to William Griffith, CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Speaking at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual State of the Industry Conference here this week, Griffith said that Barbados will usher in the winter season with a 7% jump in airlift that includes new JetBlue weekly service out of Boston from Nov. 7 to April 30 and new weekly JetBlue Mint service from New York Kennedy on the same dates.
New routes also take effect on Avianca from South America, Canada and the U.K.
"Air arrivals from the U.S. are up 27.9% with overall arrivals year-to-date up 14.5% to 432,713 as of Sept. 30," Griffith said.
Cruise arrivals are up 5.5% to date; 16 ships will make inaugural visits this winter, including the mega ships Mein Sheiff 3, operated by TUI Cruises, and the Carnival Britannia, which are now able to dock in Bridgetown following a major expansion project at the port.
Griffith reported that 2015 marked the start of a $1 billion investment in the country's hotel product over the next five years that will produce 2,300 new rooms, including the addition next year of 220 rooms to the 280-room Sandals Barbados, which opened in January.
This winter the Sugar Bay Hotel (formerly Amaryllis) and The Sands (formerly Sandy Beach) will open their doors as all-inclusive properties, adding 300 rooms to island inventory.
"In 2016, Barbados will be a hub for visitors as we celebrate our 50th year of independence, with lots of events and activities planned," Griffith said.