Barbados tourism’s key secret to success


“Barbados has a unique tourism product with a high repeat visitor component, which is perhaps higher than any other Caribbean island. The love for Barbados is what I believe made the timeshare market so successful in the 1980s. … The success of the timeshare market may even have been the precursor of the condominium market, which is the fastest-growing segment of our tourism product during the last 10 to 15 years.”

This statement, according to Alvin Jemmott, General Manager of Divi Southwinds Beach Resort and former President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, along with the diverse nature of the Barbadian tourism product and its ability to source and negotiate new opportunities are the key reasons for its success, even during these current economic times.

Speaking at the annual Sir Harold St. John lecture, which was held at the Christ Church Parish Church Centre on Wednesday, Jemmott outlined how the growth of the timeshare industry has led to one of the most buoyant markets today.

With a return rate of between 8-10 percent per year for condominium owners, these luxury-style properties are attracting a different tourist clientele and, therefore, further extending its source markets.

Speaking in particular about the success of two recent projects, he said: “Originally the condo market developed on the West Coast, but in recent times there has been a thriving condo development happening on the South Coast as well, burning forward almost at the same rate as the West Coast.”

While there is a school of thought that suggests that these developments can have long-term effects on traditional types of hotel accommodation, Jemmott stressed the important role that condominium sales play across the board in the financial sector of Barbados.

“There are arguments for and against the condo market, similar arguments for and against everything else in life. However, the one point that we can agree upon is that this type of development has brought property to many in the construction industry, providing high foreign exchange earnings for the country over time.”