Barbados’ tourism players are being urged to take advantage of increased airlift from across the region this summer.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in her four-hour Budget delivered in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, that in what is traditionally a slow travel period, some 37 800 seats from across the Caribbean alone were expected.
And as such, Government was reducing the CARICOM fee by $17.50 per passenger for six months, starting from July 1.
The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, told the country the Minister of Tourism and the chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) informed her that business with “our Caribbean neighbours shall increase”.
“Air Antilles will increase its service from three days per week to daily between St Lucia, Dominica, and Antigua, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. Caribbean Airlines will also be expanding its service between Trinidad, Guyana, St Lucia, and Barbados. Inter Caribbean has already started flights from St Kitts, and we believe that there will be additional services to St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent, and Guyana and yes, indeed, Jamaica.
“Mr Speaker, the expanded services, I’m told, will result in an additional 37 800 seats to Barbados from our Caribbean neighbours and I hope that the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association will join with the Barbados Tourism and Marketing Inc. to create the appropriate packages to ensure that this increased airlift is fully exploited by all who want to resume travel in the Caribbean.
“In addition to that, sir, we are going to announce a reduction on the fees for CARICOM travel for six months starting soon, from June 15 until December 15 reducing the CARICOM fee from $37.50 to $20 per person. Notice will be given to IATA to ensure that we are in compliance with having this happen from June 15. It is meant to be a specific tax reduction holiday to help boost the travel back to where it used to be before,” said Mottley.
Later in the presentation, the start was revised to July 1.
Earlier in her speech, she said although last year’s summer tourism period “was not the greatest”, the intention this year was “to target strategically the slow summer period as an area of growth” and while other destinations will see reduced airlift during this period, Barbados “will maintain its daily service with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic from London” and other airlines have “special marketing campaigns for Europe taking advantage of the connectivity out of Heathrow”.
In the US market, American Airlines’ double daily flights from Miami will continue and JetBlue will add a double daily service from New York which are projected to bring “an additional 12 000 seats when compared to 2022”. The number of flights from Canada “will increase from three days per week last year to a daily service for the summer”.
Mottley also said the BTMI’s massive “advertising campaign with its airline partners” will be bolstered with a further $5 million on top of the more than $20 million it has “to manage marketing and air support” for summer 2023 and beyond.