Barbados tourism minister Kerrie Symmonds is cautioning that his country’s tourist trade may not be in full swing again until winter.
Symmonds said during a Tuesday webinar that much of the fate of Barbados’ tourism industry lies in source markets, with the country’s two main markets being the United States and Britain, both of which have been grappling with the coronavirus pandemic for some time.
“I foresee that summer is pretty much going to be a challenge,” Symmonds said, adding tourism authorities may have to look “beyond summer” for a “more robust recovery…”
“We walk with caution.”
As of Tuesday, Barbados had seen 80 coronavirus cases, 39 of which had recovered.
Symmonds said his homeland has an “excellent” health care system.
Tourism accounts for 40% of the GNP in Barbados and has largely ground to a halt ther after an impressive 2019. Symmonds said his government has created a task force to look at strengthening tourism, among other things offering enhanced training for now idle hotel workers.
“We want to come back bigger and better than we were before,” Symmonds said.
Money is being set aside to safeguard small hotels, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Symmonds said his island’s villa market might fare better than other sectors as it often caters to upscale travellers who arrive on private jets for long-stay visits. Barbados is allowing private jets to land. Visitors must self-isolate for two weeks.
Symmonds noted that unlike some Caribbean islands and other parts of the world Barbados didn’t deny docking rights to any cruise ships during the pandemic, even hosting some vessels that weren’t supposed to call on the island but suddenly found themselves in search of a place to allow their passengers to disembark and return home.
Symmonds said that demonstrate how Barbados is building partnerships with cruise companies, adding one grateful cruise ship used its lights to spell out Thank You Barbados for the assistance it received.
Meanwhile, Symmonds said Barbados residents are coping with the challenges created by the coronavirus crisis.
“We understand what it is to be resilient.”