Barbados has made a name for itself as one of the main tourist destinations in the world. Its warm weather and pristine waters have helped create an industry that depends on people travelling.
An industry that has been forced to press breaks for the last year because of COVID-19.
Pre-Pandemic, Tourism was the island’s main industry, accounting for 30.9% of its GDP in 2019.
Today, there has been a 93% decline in tourist arrivals in the first month of 2021.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Senator Rudy Grant, told local media in a press conference, that the decline in the tourism sector in other countries was much larger.
Senator Grant said: “In our major source markets – the United States declined by 95 per cent, Canada declined by 94 per cent, the United Kingdom declined by 93.5 per cent, and Germany declined by 93 per cent. So, the decline in terms of the visitor arrival numbers for 2021 has been significant.”
Unlike the countries Senator Grant listed, Barbados depends largely on the tourism industry and can not afford to see such a drop in visitors.
In January 2020, Barbados welcomed 61,218 long-stay visitors, but only welcomed 4,285 in January 2021.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has recommended that, in the short term, the region promote domestic tourism through marketing and incentives.
It also recommends governments re-purpose tourism workers for tasks related to the pandemic.
Without the regular influx of tourists, hotels and restaurants have been forced to lay-off employees from coast to coast.
The necessary travel restrictions and lockdown measures have a lost impacted the industry, causing unemployment to rise to 10.94% in 2020.
However, locals have not left their beaches empty during this lockdown.
More than ever before, citizens can be seen walking their coastlines and going for swims in the early mornings.