Hotel blues in the Caribbean

Hoteliers appear to have been dealt a serious bouncer. The exit of powerhouse teams India and Pakistan from Cricket World Cup 2007, has yorked some hoteliers and left them reeling from the impact of massive cancellations by supporters of those teams.

Michael Poynter, chief operating officer of the Elegant Group of Hotels, which includes Turtle Beach, Colony Club and Crystal Cove, said they had already recorded "substantial" cancellations at all five of their properties. "We are concerned about reservations for April, especially now India and Pakistan are no longer in," he said. He also said they had already reduced hotel rates and had stepped up advertising in Britain and the United States.

Other hoteliers could not tally their losses, but said they were scrambling to fill rooms. Hotel accounts manager with Cricket Logistics Rachel Church said they were moving swiftly to fill the cancellations.

"With the knock out of India and Pakistan, there has been cancellations especially from the India media, but we are replacing them with other media. Where there have been cancellations we are trying to fill," she said.

Cricket Logistics was responsible for bookings for big blocks of rooms at hotels. A hotelier with a luxury South Coast property who requested anonymity, said business was so bad he expected some workers to be laid off from this week. "April is looking like the worse month for winter," he said, noting his hotel would not even scrape a 40 per cent occupancy rate.

President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Alvin Jemmott, said cancellations had driven hotel occupancies below 70 per cent. He conceded that the exit of India was having a real impact on accommodation. "India has had the largest following of the World Cup. They had the largest request for tickets and accommodation," he said.

Jemmott, however, said the BHTA and the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) were doing all they could to reverse the situation. He said they had launched a major advertising blitz in Ireland, which would now play a Super Eight match in Barbados. They have also turned to the websites to place banner ads with links to Barbados sites.

BTA president Stuart Layne said their attention was now on markets like Ireland and England to maximise the numbers coming in from countries which are still in the Super Eight.