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by Ricky Jordan
The Barbados Jazz Festival is attracting increased numbers of visitors and foreign exchange, while the island’s biggest entertainment/tourism showpiece, Crop-Over, is declining.
This is the conclusion based on statistics provided by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), which showed that jazz made $1.4 million more from visitors in 2003 than in 2002, while Crop-Over visitors’ spending dropped by 5.5 per cent to $27.2 million.
According to the CTO, which conducts exit and entry surveys of visitors at the island’s air and sea ports, the 11-year-old jazz festival, which is produced by GMR Tours, attracted over 2 100 visitors to its events last year; about 500 more than those attending in 2002.
Statistician and deputy director of research at the CTO, Winfield Griffith, said while most of those visitors didn’t come specifically for jazz, it marked a reversal of the January 2002 figures, when the effects of 9/11 (September 11, 2001) impacted negatively on international travel.
The reversal, he said, had translated into about US$3.2 million (BDS$6.4 million) being spent by tourists over an eight-day period – about BDS$1.4 million more than the $5 million spent at the 2002 Jazz Festival.
Crop-Over 2003, meanwhile, pulled in an estimated 9 000 visitors, of whom 3 000 came specifically for the six-week festival. But the overall number was almost 4 000 less than those reported for 2002 and about half of 2001’s visitors, according to the CTO.
“Aggregate spending by those who attended Crop-Over 2003 while on the island was estimated at US$13.6 million (BDS$27.2 million), over $1 million less than in 2002,” he said.
While those coming specifically for Crop-Over were mainly from the United States and the Caribbean, Griffith added, there had been a marked decline in visitor participation in the last two years.
“Economic depression in this (United States) market is associated with this decline,” he stated.
Executive vice-president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Sue Springer said, however, the two festivals could not be compared. She said that the type of visitor who arrived in the winter period (November-April), were high-end folk whose spending generated more revenue in less time. She also noted that Crop-Over 2003 had “faced major tourism challenges, including the Iraq war”.
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