Gov’t explores new system to track and boost tourist spend
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has disclosed that a new system was being developed to better capture and monitor tourist spend in Barbados as Government continued to seek ways to grow the sector.
Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Sealy said while the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) was constantly developing new and exciting areas in order to get visitors spending more, there was a lot more work to be done.
“This government is committed to the implementation of the tourism satellites regime which will measure and monitor the movement of the tourism dollar through Barbados so we can have a better idea of the contribution of tourism,” said Sealy.
“We are working with the Barbados Statistical Service to develop that. As you would appreciate, it is a highly technical exercise and it is taking some time and we want to see if that can come because the current method is really not providing us with as much empirical detail as we would like to have.
He however stressed that Government would have to provide more opportunities and more points to attract visitors to spend.
Last year, Barbados welcomed a record 663,000 visitors. The Central Bank reported that tourism activities contributed an estimated increase of 1.2 per cent or $1.7 million more last year, when compared to the $140.8 million in 2016.
Last week, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) reported that stay-over tourists to the Caribbean surpassed 30 million last year for the first time, and they spent about US$37 billion despite two devastating hurricanes in September.
Currently, the CTO carries out an exist survey to capture an estimated tourist spend in the various destinations.
Sealy said as important as the CTO’s survey was, it did not give the most accurate or exact measurement.
“As important as it is as an indicator, that is all that it is. We do not accurately know exactly how much is spent,” he said, adding “when we speak about spend we need to speak about it not in these generic wishy-washy terms because of some exit survey, but that you can actually point to efforts on the part of government to try to see that ordinary Barbadians can benefit from it and indeed the country as a whole could benefit”. (MM)