Published: December 21st 2011December 21st 2011
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the land, Not a tourist was stirring, child, woman, nor man. The beaches were sunny, the water was warm, “But where are the visitors?” locals cried with alarm. “It’s the economy,” they whispered, “and no one has money. Can’t pay the mortgage, can’t go where it’s sunny.”
OK, I’m not going to be named Poet Laureate anytime soon, but you get the idea. Barbados is my favorite winter vacation spot, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this empty.
The global economic meltdown has, sadly, spread to Barbados as well. A number of decent, mid-range hotels have closed. Some are closed under the mantel of “refurbishment” (In the middle of high season? With no visible workers?), some are actively being demolished, and some are just shuttered and moldering away.
Several well-known restaurants have closed, and I was shocked at the number of empty store fronts in Bridgetown. In good years as many as six large cruise ships a day would dock here; this year the ships are smaller, and there aren’t nearly as many. In fact, in the summer of 2012, only one ship
Rockley Beach, afternoon, December 21, 2011
a week is scheduled to arrive in Bridgetown.
At approximately 15% of GDP, tourism is the number one contributor to this nation’s economy. The government is well aware of the importance of tourists, and has several initiatives to make the island appealing to visitors. One is NISE – the National Initiative for Service Excellence, the other is sponsoring school kids to be a tourist for a day, in an effort to show children how every experience a tourist has can affect how much they spend, and how they feel about Barbados.
It’s also interesting to note how much the economy of various countries around the world impacts tourism in the lovely island. My companions on the beach this year are Germans, Canadians, and a couple of Norwegians. There are a few Brits, no Italians, and not many Americans – quite a change from years gone by.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of good hotels and nice restaurants that are up and running; Barbados is still a great place to visit. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, interesting history, and you can drink the water! I just hope folks here can weather this patch of
economically stormy weather.
There are more photos below