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Barbados – Tourism figures under-reported

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A discrepancy in Barbados’ tourism arrivals data has revealed that the island has been welcoming thousands more visitors over the last three and a half years than was initially reported.

This is according to the latest Central Bank of Barbados report, which was released on Wednesday by Central Bank Governor Dr Kevin Greenidge.

The bank also indicated that tourism activity in the island continued to improve.

“Arrivals increased by 92,990 in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the corresponding quarter one year earlier, which represents roughly 78 per cent of the pre-COVID 2019 levels.”

However, the Central Bank indicated that this figure was “underestimated as the Government is currently working to resolve a discrepancy in the tourism arrivals data, which has been occurring since October 2019”.

Greenidge said he was not surprised at the variation in statistics. He pointed out that several agencies were involved in the production of the tourism data including the immigration department, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) and the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS).

“We look at the numbers and what we are seeing is that there is a discrepancy in the statistics and it is on the downside. It is suggesting that, from probably back in October 2019, there has been an underestimation of the arrival numbers,” said Greenidge.

“We have been working closely together, all the agencies. In fact, I have had the privilege of leading the team with the Chief Immigration Officer, also with the head of the BTMI and GAIA Inc, and our preliminary results suggest that on average – and this is using for example, November data – our arrivals are actually roughly 6,000 more than we actually build into our numbers,” he explained.

Greenidge was not in a position to say why the inconsistency, but said he was still in the process of working with stakeholders to determine the true arrival numbers for the island.
“We hope to be able to, at least by the next quarter, have a more accurate revised number. But I should stress that it is on the downside so the number is likely to be higher than what we currently [have]. You could even look at these estimates as being conservative, so to speak,” he said.
(MM)

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