There are concerns that hotel closures and layoffs in 2011 may be the result of sustained discounting to keep guests checking in, coupled with UK residents’ recent disinterest in vacationing.
The scenario was laid out by General Manager of the Hotels and Tourist Association Neil Forrester as he contemplated the most recent Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) projection for the industry. The CTO projects region-wide growth of 5 per cent in arrivals, but, as has been seen with discounting, increased arrivals do not necessarily translate to increase visitor spending.
In addition, Forrester thinks that Antigua & Barbuda, along with the rest of the Eastern Caribbean, will continue to be slower than its neighbours in recovering from the slump which started in 2009.
He was also concerned that the winter months of January to April won’t provide the levels of profit required to fund operations in the summer.
“We could see a great slump in the summer, and if the hotels do not have the reserves to carry them through, we could see closures. We could see layoffs,” he said.
Still, he and the entire industry are hoping that, for all its bleak prospects, 2011 will turn out to be better than 2010 when discounts were all that kept hotel head counts up.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)