By Theresa Goodwin
Tourism stakeholders in Barbuda are being advised that they will have to devise new and innovative strategies to drive growth within the sector.
The twin-island state is still in a state of recovery more than two years after Hurricane Irma destroyed most of the structures on the 62-square-mile island.
Chair of the Tourism and Culture Committee on the Barbuda Council, Jacklyn Frank said prior to the hurricane, tourism on the island was hotel-based, however, due to the lack of adequate room stock this is not the best option for potential visitors to the island.
There is also the added obstacle of inadequate Internet access and telephone connection.
Of the hotels that are now in operation, two of them cater specifically to high-end clients, while a few smaller properties are being used to provide housing for consultants who are on the island conducting business.
Frank suggested that the current situation presents an opportunity for Barbudans to pool their resources to make up for the shortfall.
“What we have to look at in Barbuda is where do we want tourism to go. Are we going to follow the old way of doing it pre-Irma or are we going to re-invent ourselves and look at the wider world and see what is happening out there?
“Maybe, looking at more Airbnbs, more glamping sites, extending our camping experience. It is an opportunity for Barbudans to come together and pool their resources and build a small selection of cottages close to the coastline and renting the rooms out. That way the Barbudans would make the profit and not the big corporations,” Frank said.
The committee chair also pointed out that Barbudans could cash in by promoting outdoor type of activities and marketing the wildlife which the island is famous for.
“There are people in this world who prefer the outside life and an outdoor experience. Some may want some luxury, but it is not to say that it will not come,” Frank said.
Notwithstanding the difficulties currently being experienced on Barbuda, Frank said they are looking forward to the upcoming Winter season and will be developing marketing strategies based on the natural resources that still exist in Barbuda, namely beautiful beaches, woodlands and forests.