Tourism Potential

Submitted by Adrian Loveridge


While I fully understand all the fiscal restraints Government currently has and the historical and possibly political desire to complete the recently re-named Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Conference Centre, I would like to propose a second option.

There is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago stole a march on the Southern Caribbean by constructing a new conference facility and an adjacent first class hotel. It’s no secret that most people attending conferences, for all sorts of reasons, want to stay close to where the event is taking place.

The very last thing is they wish to endure is to spend indeterminate amounts of time fighting with rush hour traffic to reach where the function is taking place. For whatever reason, ‘we’ missed a golden opportunity with the construction of the Hilton. 354 rooms, but not one large enough space to host major exhibitors and trade or consumer shows.

In hindsight it would have been so easy to have incorporated a single meeting area on one level of at least 10,000 square feet. Whether it was rooftop, basement or even formed part of the car park!

It’s not too late!

Needham Point still offers one of the most desirable locations for further development and if we seriously want to maintain and attract further airlift year round, this is our chance, even during a recession.The former refinery land could be used and the barracks together with other buildings currently used by the Royal Barbados Defence Force be tastefully incorporated while protecting their architectural heritage.

Even the derelict pier could be transformed to provide a spectacular waters edge restaurant. Much discussion has taken place over the years about the proposed Pierhead development, and I am still in full support of this project to help revitalise historic Bridgetown. Not only would it to attractive to long stay visitors but also within easy walking distance of the quoted 700,000 cruise ship passengers entering the port each year.

I believe that the development of Needham Point into a major conference and event centre would provide the catalyst to ensure that Pierhead becomes a viable project. Restaurants, shops and other facilities generating valuable foreign currency!

The chairman of one of our major construction and development companies recently stated that it was time to put back. Could his company together with others in partnership with Government make a world class conference facility a reality?

Very few of the above are new ideas. Many have been voiced before. But now is perhaps the time to turn the concept into reinforcing the viability of our entire tourism industry.

18 thoughts on “Tourism Potential

  1. Good article.

    When David Rice came on board we had heard about some financial misbehaviour at the New York and London offices. In the news today it seems the government has gone on the offensive to determine who are the culprits.

  2. @Adrian,
    “In hindsight it would have been so easy to have incorporated a single meeting area on one level of at least 10,000 square feet.” [The Barbados Hilton website indicates the hotel has
    350 guest rooms and 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. By contrast, the Trinidad Hyatt Hotel and Conference Centre has 428 guest rooms and 43,000 square feet of function space. I’m not sure if your 10k sq ft is additional to what is already available at the Hilton. If not, then one can think about how that space is, or can be, configured.

    The fact that you are proposing ideas for developing the whole area near Needham Point is also indicative of the lack of a bigger vision for the Hilton area than just an hotel.

    Like many other things in the sector, your suggested utilisation/redevelopment of adjacent areas flags to me a significant missing piece in local tourism development, which is an holistic approach to the sector. There are many disparate pieces but they do not make a very sensible whole.

    I note that the Minister’s breakfast briefing yesterday still talks about a tourism master plan as a thing for the future. Time and tide wait for no man and my own fear is that the relative fallow period of the current recession has been frittered away in terms of aggressively repositioning the sector to be able to take off better as and when economic conditions improve.]

  3. Dennis,


    The problem with the Hilton Barbados meeting space its that its a combination that makes up a total of 10,000 square feet.
    Take away fire exits and service doors and there is really not one large space that can be used.
    Even the enormous lobby space is subject to strong winds and difficult to use at certain times of te year.

    For the re-DISCOVER the Caribbean Show we need at least 10,000 square feet in ONE room on one level.

    Of course, if the Needham Point proposed project ever happens, then there would nothing to limit the meeting space size. Even 40,000 square feet.

    A new enlarged world class meeting and events centre would drive hotel occupancy (even in softer summer points), help secure (and protect) new airlift and the trickle down effect would benefit the entire sector.

    As you know Wayne Capaldi made some very good points on Business Barbados but while we have hundreds of unregistered (unlicensed) rooms operating in the accommodation sector, its going to be very difficult to ensure to control and improve standards.

  4. Adrian i always disagree with you always ……. BUT this time i Agree with you 100 percent an excellent idiea and i must admit one that never occured to me but furhter develepment of that area as you suggest is a brilliant idiea , im only sry i cant do it but as you say it would be a very good investment , use the former refinery space and tastefully incooperate the barracks into the design also the idiea of a a restaurant on a refeubished pier is also a very good idiea i hope someone seriously looks at this

  5. @Adrian Loveridge,

    What bewilders me is that, with government’s shareholding in the Hilton, and its ownership of the adjacent lands, a comprehensive development program should never have been a problem but for a dearth of broad thinking. One would have understood problems if a totally private entity had had to be brought ‘on board’.

    The Minister spoke last year about how Trinidad had eaten Barbados’ lunch with its development of conference facilities (and he could have added, with the development of an attractive waterfront area by the Hyatt). Who would not eat a ‘freely’ given lunch?

  6. Adrian I hope they follow your advice and build a 10,000 sq ft tradeshow and conference facility.

    I am in the Planning and Design end of the Event business.
    During this month one of my Clients had events in 10 cities in the USA and Canada and 9 were held in Hotel conference rooms.

    The Events each required about 8,000 sq. ft. of floor space.

    The LESC is a good event facility and could be a satellite venue for a conference with shuttle buses bringing attendees from the hotels.

  7. Anonymous, WOW! a first. Lets hope it will not be the last.


    YES! Almost everything is in place and I suspect there would not be any prolonged wait for planning permission!!!!
    The project would employ lots of people
    during these troubling times and by the time we emerged from the recession we would have a facility to die for.
    Let us not wait for the next competitor to eat our lunch.

  8. How can you trust an incompetent DLP Government that tells lies?


    Where will the DLP get the money from to build anything when it can hardly find money monthly to pay public servants?

    The simple reality is that this years Estimates will be cut by 10% over last years, which was cut by 2.5% during the year.

    Despite the fancy talk of building an Airport in St. Lucy, an island off St. Lucy, a brand-name hotel every two years, a Port in the North and so on – there is no money.

    The DLP is now borrowing to finance consumption and Government Revenue is significanly lower than Expenditure.

    That is what you call a “fiscal crisis!!!”

    Now you know that Prime Minister Thompson was telling lies when he said that the Government does not have a cash-flow problem.

    But everyone is silent on that now.

    How can you trust an incompetent DLP Government that tells lies?

  9. DLP———Dangerous Lying People

    HAVE always been liars

    Some people either have a problem with the truth or they live in their own fantasy world that they construct in their minds. I feel that they might mean well but just cant help it. I feel for them !

  10. At least this is an idea that can fly. However, 10,000 square feet is enough if you think small and host only one event at a time. I would envisage a multi-storied, multifaceted facility that can host several events concurrently.

    • Former minister of tourism Barney Lynch boasted of a Master Plan for tourism, he has come and gone and we are still waiting for that plan, bear in mind this is our most important productive sector.

  11. At a recent Civil Society Economic Conference hosted by the Barbados Non-Governmental Organizations and the Caribbean Diaspora Association at the Savannah Hotel, former Central Bank of Barbados Governor, Sir Courtney Blackman, apparently made the very important point that policymakers need to move beyond tourism and financial services (taken from the last issue of a popular local business newspaper).

    And whereas it appeared that Sir Courtney still saw a role for Tourism to play in the entire so-called economy ( the PDC would agree with this too), he seemed to be saying that Tourism presented too many vulnerabilities to itself and the country as a whole, which somehow too were incapable of being addressed directly, and which therefore too posed significant inveterate problems to the country.

    The former Governor could NOT have been more right on those two points. For, too long in this country many politically conscious individuals and groups have been saying that successive DLP and BLP Governments in Barbados and many others within some other sectors outside of Tourism ought see the need to reduce this acute level of dependence that they have on this sector, for their and the country’s further growth and development, fundamentally because of the fickle nature of it, its vulnerabilities to local and external shocks, and the huge problems that associates with it.

    Indeed, there have also been some occasions in the past in which this issue should have been emphasized but was NOT apparently for purely political reasons.

    One occasion had to back in 1980, in a lecture/discussion series sponsored by the Academy of Politics of the DLP, at George Street, Dr. Farley Braithwaite, where then Lecturer in Sociology at the Cave Hill Campus of the University, in a presentation titled: The Social Implications of Tourism, stated, and let us – the PDC – say here right now that most of what is described in this article has been directly taken from a pamphlet produced by the Academy of Politics, in October/November 1980; inter alia: ” It is often argued, and perhaps with some justification, that the development of Tourism in Barbados, and indeed in the rest of the Caribbean, has been some what haphazard and unstructured.

    Nonetheless, there are indications in the report of the Moyne Commission, which was set up to examine the circumstances surrounding the social protest of the 1930s, that tourism emerged as a viable industrial activity in Barbados as far back as the late 1920s.

    However if we did concede that its growth was some what haphazard, it was NOT long before it was advanced as a major vehicle for social and economic development in the region.

    For example, the Moyne Commission Report in making recommendations to improve the social situation ( of the Colonies ) observed, and Dr. Braithwaite quoted ” … the development of the tourist trade comprising as it does a demand for hotel services, transport facilities and the like, is another possible means of increasing the volume of employment outside of agriculture”.

    Dr. Braithwaite himself continued by saying that implicit in this observation from Moyne was the view that Tourism could have been used to promote social and economic development through

    (1) the creation of employment, and by implication the generation of income;

    (2) the diversification of the economy by creating economic activity outside of agriculture, and the promotion of a services sector;

    (3) the promotion of infrastructural development such as roads, air services, transportation and so on.

    Dr. Braithwaite in continuing to quote the Moyne Commission Report, stated that this Commission observed that Tourism had also had developmental potential, in that, there was one way in which this potential could have been developed, and this was in ” helping to maintain the balance of payments of the colonies”.

    Dr. Braithwaite went on to further reference the Commission’s Report by saying how the Commission in making recommendations went even further in laying down guidelines for the implementation of such a strategy, by stating –

    “We ( the members of the Moyne Commission at the time) do not feel able to recommend that any West Indian Colonies should undertake substantial liabilities for this ( tourism ) purpose as was suggested in the evidence before us, since we consider that the RISKS ( our capitalization) to capital involved in the tourist trade are such that they cannot with fairness be imposed upon the tax payer, and should be borne by private enterprise.

    The rewards when success attends efforts to attract tourists are CONSIDERABLE ( our capitals for particular emphasis), and given A REASONABLE DEGREE OF ENCOURAGEMENT BY GOVERNMENT ( our capitals for particular emphasis) in the form of advertising, the provision of better roads, and the improvement of external communications, we see no reason why private capital should not become available for the development of this enterprise”.

    Dr. Braithwaite – no doubt later one of the then policymakers within the DLP Government of 1986-1994 or one of the then advisors to it – went on to say that with this new emphasis on Tourism, which for him was essentially a post 1950 phenomenon, how in Tourism in Barbados there was witnessed a rapid growth in hotel facilities from 1, 868 rooms in 1958 to 11, 000 plus in 1978, and a general increase in the number of tourist from 35 000 in 1960, to 316, 000 in 1978, with a projection for between 450, 500, 000 by 1983. In those regards he cited the Barbados Development Plan 1979-1983, the Ministry of Finance, 1979. And again cited it in saying how Barbados witnessed an increase in tourist expenditure from BDS $ 80 Million in 1970, to BDS $ 270 Million in 1978.

    At this juncture, Tourism is said by some people who are directly involved in the Tourism sector itself to be a billion dollar industry; and said by the Central Bank in its report of the performance of the Barbados economy for 2009 to be contributing about 15 % of GDP.

    Nevertheless to get back to the reported address by Dr. Brathwaite at the Academy of Politics, what could be seen about that address is that almost thirty years later, some of the same things he was actually talking about then in his address pertaining to so-called Tourism Development in Barbados, are exactly what many of us in Barbados are really grappling with now with regard to Tourism in Barbados, and are exactly what must have helped to inspire Sir Cortney to say what he was reported to have said – that certain policy makers need to move us away from Tourism.

    Therefore, seeing that we in the PDC have so much realized that Tourism in Barbados is right now in serious serious crisis ( declining by 1.2 % in 2008 and by 8.7 % in 2009, according to the said Central Bank Report on the 2009 performance of the Barbados economy – this depression in Barbados has really laid bare the very crisis-oriented nature of tourism in Barbados for many people to see), it is not without incidence ( because we have followed carefully the entire logic as presented by persons like Dr. Braithwaite over the years, surrounding Tourism development in Barbados) that in this Brathwaite lecture, he did iterate how in his having evaluated the social implications of tourism, how tourism can best be represented an achievement crisis; meaning, as he put it, that with the implementation of a plan or a policy there results some definite benefits or achievements but in scoring those achievements it brings with it a number of problems or crises.

    Such is so evident even today!!

    Dr. Braithwaite further spoke about the crises, the stresses and strains that tourism had – up to that time – brought to the social, cultural and economic life in Barbados.

    He talked about the The Economic Menace of Tourism – that Tourism had not generated the promised or expected amount of social and occupational mobility ( because, for him, jobs were largely of a semi-skilled and unskilled nature); The Dominance of foreign ownership in the sector (which has been totally unnecessary in our view); the lack of linkages between Tourism and Agriculture, which – as he termed it – led to the the underdevelopment of Agriculture.

    At this stage though, the PDC certainly wishes to question and furthermore dismiss this particular thesis and its central arguments.

    For, Dr. Brathwaite was reported as saying there and then that notwithstanding an increase in the number of tourists, that Barbados did not have an accompanying increase in food production. ( pg 5 of this said pamphlet produced by the Academy of Politics).

    This type of argument was certainly piss poor disingenuous on his part primarily because while it might have been so that there was no increase in food production at the time, certainly Tourism development did NOT stop and could NOT have stopped higher levels of food production for coming about in the way he suggested, simply because tourism and many of its variables and the way they operate cannot be juxtaposed with Agriculture and many of its variables and how they operate.

    Higher food production could only have been stopped by acts of nature, internally in terms of the Agricultural sector itself or directly through externally provided input sources or directly through authoritative government policy affecting Agriculture.

    If he had argued that our fertile agricultural lands which had at the time been producing food were being taken up then for tourism development purposes and there was a causative drop in food production, then we in PDC would understand, but in that case we would not have just blamed tourism developers, but also the government of the day, those who actually sold the lands or converted them into such uses, etc.

    Another of his false arguments was that tourism development caused a decline in jobs in Agriculture. While he stated that sociological observation suggested that this was directly related to tourism, in that ( and here is the massive fallacy ), Barbadians have been socialized into white collar job aspiartion, consequently there was a shift too, and an ideal preference for employment in the tourist industry. What was damning was that Dr. Braithwaite there and then in 1980 failed to provide the evidence that persons who were working in Agriculture directly left working in Agriculture and went to work in Tourism. HE BROUGHT NO EVIDENCE AT ALL TO SHOW THAT THIS WAS IN FACT SO TO THE NUMBER PERSONS WHO WERE TH ERE AT HIS ADDRESS, NOR DID HE APPENDIX SUCH TO HIS LECTURE.

    Anyhow he further talked about Tourism and the Environmental Crisis – lack of access to the beach and coastal or beach erosion, ( which for many citizens of Barbados do remain serious issues in this country – in the case of the first issue – where asserting our rights as owners of the beaches of this country is concerned – and the other one in view of some people in Barbados presently discussing more than ever before the issue of climate change).

    Though there were other subjects like the Impact of Tourism on policy, Where do we go from here? – that he had discussed under the broader title of his address – The Social Implications of Tourism, we will just touch on this one which is so very important to our party and to many others in Barbados – Tourism, Culture and Social Life.

    Under this head he talked about many of the problems that still persist today in Tourism in Barbados. Very crucially he stated: “…. the general feeling was that independence was supposed to overcome the humiliations of colonialism, but far from it we have resorted not to independent means of development, but to dependent means. Tourism as we have organized it (? who did he mean too) IS A NEW KIND OF COLONALISM, and accordingly CAN BE EXPECTED TO REINFORCE THE PROBLEM OF CULTURAL DEPENDENCY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEPENDENCY.”

    And he talked about – as reported in this same pamphlet – how “tourism implies the offering of a service. It is evident that in our attempt (? who did he mean though) to offer quality service, we ( ???) have virtually ritualized the notion of friendliness. This ritualisation of friendliness to the tourist client IS NOW ALMOST INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM SUBSERVIENCE AND SERVILITY.”

    However, notwithstanding his lack of clarity on the we question, some very profound words with great relevance and meaning to many of us in Barbados today!!

    Dr. Brathwaite concluded his fairly good presentation by saying that, “we, (again?) have argued that tourism to the extent that it represents an achievement crisis brings not only benefits but social, economic, environmental and policy problems as well.

    We have argued that these problems derive in large part from the primacy of foreign and international capital in tourist development, because such dominance places control of tourism development in foreign hands.

    This foreign control of tourism we further argued limits our ability to define and plan the way in which tourism is organized, and to deal effectively with the negaitive spin offs from it.



    What is very worrying about the goodly Doctor’s presentation, though, was that he STARKLY failed to deal with many of the concrete problems underlying many of the fundamental problems facing tourism development then and which continue to face tourism development today and by extension the country as a whole.


    In case of the last point the doctor neither stressed that in his presentation and niether did he present any alternatives to developing away from tourism led growth and development then.

    And, so as tourism remains in serious crisis today, the sight of individuals attempting to come up with ideas to greater deepen our dependence on Tourism, and the Tourism minister and by extension the Cabinet trying to create two entities out of the BTA, is surely a sign of their EITHER NOT KNOWING ENOUGH about the political historical ideological and colonial fundamentals or consequences relative to the emergence and growth of this sector in Barbados OR their being reckless as to these kinds of facts, and that such either way must therefore be be seen as reflective or predictive of the nonsense that is happening or that will be happening in this place concerning TOURISM, and concerning this country which is fast becoming a banana republic.


    Temp. -16°C -19°C -17°C
    Feels Like -23

    Unless there is global warming that will change those temperatures from minus to plus in January and February Barbados will have a viable Tourism industry.

    There will be ups and downs but some of us do like to escape the Freezer.Actually a whole lot of us.

    Tonight is a double Black no ice night.

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