Tourism Watch: Understanding LIAT’s Strategy

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Whether you attribute the now infamous saying, “there are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics’ to a former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli or American author Mark Twain, it is perhaps even more true today, than it was then. And in the current silly season, I am sure we are going to witness many examples. I would prefer, as they say in the popular TV series CSI, ‘follow the evidence’, for those few people who still watch television.

When you look at the long stay visitor arrival figures, it is not all doom and gloom, and I wonder if we can learn from it. Take Canada, our fourth largest source market. Between 2004 and 2007 we welcomed 199,894 Canadians. For the four years 2008 to 2011 that number grew to 265,390, a rise of nearly 33 per cent.

While the numbers are yet to be released for the final month of 2012, up until the end of November, 63,053 Canadians came to our shores, compared with 71,953 for the whole of 2011. So if December turns out to be a strong month, we should not be too far behind the previous year.

Sadly, it does not negate the losses in other markets.

The introduction of a second carrier WestJet, of course has played a vital role, and that contribution will almost certainly become greater once their Q400 turboprop fleet is introduced later this year, enabling more connecting possibilities to the Barbados-bound flights. And that takes me to LIAT fleet renewal question. Much discussion has taken place over the last two years ago with various aircraft manufacturers from Canada, Brazil, Europe and even China. It would seem a fait accompli if media reports are credible, with an order being placed for six ATR42 – 600 planes, each with a seating capacity of 50 persons.

This decision has caught a few industry observers by surprise as they expected LIAT to opt for the much faster 70 seat Dash Q400’s. The higher operating speed and number of available seats, would in many peoples view, offer a lower individual ticket cost, per operating mile. Especially as only two weeks ago, SVG’s Prime Minister announced the carrier would be introducing new longer routes to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama and Aruba. Further considerations like having to stock two types of spare parts, pilot training etc., must similarly be put into the equation.

Anyway, despite the Barbadian taxpayer being the single largest shareholder, it would appear they have no real input in the final equipment decision making choice. During the time LIAT’s current CEO held a similar position at the highly subsidised Caribbean Airlines, Trinidad’s Sunday Guardian reported that ‘Ian Brunton was at the forefront in negotiating the ATR deal’ for that carrier, so perhaps that may have some bearing.

I tend, as someone who has to honestly state, is not in possession of the full facts, perhaps look at it a slightly different way. Maybe, I would ask the question, which airline manufacturer’s workers would be more likely to take holiday in the Caribbean and in particular, Barbados? According to their website, Bombardier employs over 70,000 people with around 33,600 working in the aerospace division.

I must admit, I have a soft spot for Canada. They have been good to us over the years and have certainly been one of the bedrocks of our tourism and financial sectors. One thing for sure, LIAT and it’s board, could endear itself much more their customer base, if they better explained exactly what they are trying to achieve and the reasons behind those objectives.

59 thoughts on “Tourism Watch: Understanding LIAT’s Strategy

    • @Adrian

      Here again we are talking about a crisis of leadership. We promote regional integration – and the regionalists are big about people movement in the Caribbean – yet regional transportation has been the political hobby horse of successive governments which straddle the region.

      Go figure!

  1. @ Adrian loveridge

    Where across the Caribbean archipelago have you in your vast exposure to the machinations of we regional culture had the pleasure to encounter a board, from corporate office through government to domestic PTA, that has been inclined to share its rational in using state funds to buy antiquated equipment particularly when the garbage comes from a “friend’s storefront?”

    The comment on the type of craft being purchased, particularly given the expansion of the market to further destinations and a commensurate need for speedier craft, brings to mind a former purchase of a fleet of supa powered Subarus for the Royal Barbados Police Force which, as expensive as the were, high maintenance costs, also demanded similar parts restocking woes and finally all of these vehicles wound up on the dump heap. The Brunton-like mentality worked there too.

    I forgive you Mr loveridge cause, judging from your picture, you come from away and in your country rational decisions are made to sustain the business over time and do not try to impoverish it during your term as CEO or Chairman

    Maybe with time, like me at 81, you will come to understand that the responses that you have encountered with the BTA and the MOT and the seeming idiocy of their Minister Sealy, his predecessors and their accomplices, is not based on purposes belligerence but their genuine inability to reason beyond a simplistic “a,b ab catch a crab, g, o go let it go”

    Hope springs eternal from thè human heart and maybe before I go some glimmer of reasoning will come to these brutish beasts, but then again….

  2. David and Adrian

    Check-This-Out continues to be amazed at the almost total absence of advertising from BTA or Barbados tourist properties in Toronto newspaper over the past several months, while St. Lucia runs full page and half page ads on a weekly basis.

    Here are a couple of recent articles from the Globe & Mail that you might find interesting.

    The first article discusses Canada’s declining share of the “rapidly growing” global tourism sector (sounds familiar) and attributes it in part to “The country is not investing enough in marketing itself abroad, while our competitors are”

    The second article discusses the amazing success of the advertising campaigns promoting tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past few years. The last paragraph sounds like it come from Minister Sealy.

    “It’s a challenge for our tourism industry. You have to work to get here. That’s one thing we’ve tried to overcome,” he said. “You’ve got to get on a ferry and drive or you’ve got to fly … You don’t happen on us. We have to say we’re different.”

    Check-This-Out suggests that the MOT or BTA might want to consider talking to Target Marketing, whose rather simple and straight-forward website – – says “Hire the best people. Select the best clients. Do the best work. Have fun. And always challenge conventional thinking.” And “If you poke your head around our agency, you won’t find egos, divas, or temper tantrums. Only 50 (give or take) talented, nice people. People with fire in their belly. People with a sense of humour. It’s our greatest asset – and our greatest advantage. We strive to hire the smartest people we can find.” Really – no egos or divas?

    BTW CTO had never heard of Target Marketing before reading the article in the Globe

  3. David the ferry sank before it could make its first voyage. Stupse….these island governments are not really serious about inter island travel. Liat still living in the past and still expecting a miracle.

    • @islandgal

      The hypocrisy is discussing. Do you know when Barbados Chairs Caricom we have to tolerate these so-called regionalists bleating that Barbados is not doing enough to push the movement forward. In the last year what have you heard from Rickey Singh, Tennyson Joseph and even our own Wickham. George Brathwaite eta? Nada!!!

  4. David it says who we are as a people…a bunch of HYPOCRITES and moochers waiting for someone to grease dem hands to get tings going.

  5. For example long serving Chairman was heard to say a couple weeks ago that LIAT had to fly routes in the Caribbean which are not profitable. He then went on to explain that those governments where the routes are not profitable subsidise other airlines to fly. Now what is wrong here?

  6. In many localities in Canada, Hawaii there are sea plane businesses and ferries servicing nearby islands. Why can’t the Caribbean get their act together?

  7. @Adrian
    I have said on several occasions that BWIA just closed down without any objection or concern expressed by Barbados,its first overseas destination in 1940.Btw I just read in the local Nation newspaper that Barbados was Air Canada’s first overseas destination also.When Bwee morphed into CAL,no effort was made by our tourism thinkers to send a high powered delegation to Trinidad to have CAL return to Barbados and serve the country on the New York,Toronto,Miami,and now the London routes.CAL had planned to return to London last July via Barbados twice weekly according to the Trinidad press however the news is that that decision is on hold up to now.No intervention from Barbados.BWIA/CAL is an airline that has served Barbados well in the past.My information is that Guyana,Grenada and St Lucia have sent delegations to Trinidad and have all been successful in getting CAL to return to serve their respective destinations,although in fairness to Guyana,CAL had continued where Bwee left off in 2007 and with the demise of Easy Jet,CAL has been designated National Carrier status for Guyana.I think the demise of Bwee and of Redjet have both affected negatively on the tourism plant in Barbados and I see no effort by this Government to rectify that outcome.
    It would be interesting to hear the rationale of dumping DeHavilland after all these years in preference to an unknown ATR.I agree with your contention that its more likely at this time to benefit us by retaining our business partner link with the Canadians as opposed to the French.

  8. Adrian Loveridge wrote “For the four years 2008 to 2011 that number grew to 265,390, a rise of nearly 33 per cent.”

    The BTA Toronto office should be commended for this achievement.They must have done something right during a period when Canada was massively promoting its own destinations.

  9. i am a canadian, i love barbados, barbados doesnt love me charged me excise tax and vat on a carton of non duty free cigarettes, wake up you are beginning to kill the golden goose with petty tax grabs. while waiting for customs to fill out my tax bill a bajan family was sent to examination station, the same agent harassing me looks over and instructs nearby agent to let them in unexamined or taxed or questioned. he looks up says to neighbouring agent HE MY FRIEND, i must be his enemy

  10. @ David:

    Michael Winner was one of those wealthy Brits who invested in those Four Seasons villas.
    He was exceedingly critical of the scammers and their local lackeys who took him and his rich friends for a ride despite the generous tax write-offs.

    Do you know if legal action is still being pursued against the principals of this massive scam?

  11. The following note was sent to Randy Wilkie of Sandy Lane by Andrew Nehaul:

    Yesterady Film Director Michael Winner passed away.
    He was 77 years old and a colourful character. His obituary can be found here and later in life he was better know at a restaurant reviewer for the Sunday Times.

    Mr Winner was a frequent visitor and a friend of Barbados especially in December. His favorite hotel was Sandy Lane and his idiosyncrasies can be best described by the staff of this hotel who came into contact with him over the many years he holidayed there.

    One can only hope that the BTA in general and Sandy Lane in particular do not let his passing go unawares.

    With kind regards/Med vänliga hälsningar,

    Andrew Nehaul
    Byvägen 54,
    133 34 Saltsjöbaden

  12. Its -16c in my hood and I received this in my email.

    Hello Bajan in the cold ,

    We’ve got the perfect escape plan for this bitter winter blast!

    Barbados Air only (from Toronto)

    From $520.86 (taxes included)

  13. @Gabriel

    I was told CAL was to operate under the Barbadian-owned ‘Caribbean Airways’ brand but Trinidad pulled out at the last minute. Good luck to that high-powered delegation.

  14. Hants | January 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM |
    Adrian Loveridge wrote “For the four years 2008 to 2011 that number grew to 265,390, a rise of nearly 33 per cent.”

    The BTA Toronto office should be commended for this achievement.They must have done something right during a period when Canada was massively promoting its own destinations

    Wait Hants you telling we Adrian Loveridge wrote something commending the BTA and Government on tourism arrivals? What is the world coming to? Next we might have miller, prodigal and observing (…) admitting Fruendel is a human being.

  15. islandgal246 | January 21, 2013 at 3:37 PM |
    David the ferry sank before it could make its first voyage.
    Captain Selby and Captain Fergusson must be turning in their graves.

  16. January forecast 7% decline.

    Feedback from Tourism Meeting in Bahamas, the tour operators complained of Barbados lack of visibility in our key markets.

  17. David wrote “January forecast 7% decline.”

    But expect an increase from Canada. We have been in a freezer and need to thaw out.

  18. @ Hants | January 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM |

    “But expect an increase from Canada. We have been in a freezer and need to thaw out.”

    Why not give Bim a pass for the time being? Despite the much feedback from visitors things still remain expensive unfriendly with the same ‘don’t-give-a-damned’ attitude.

    Cuba and the other isles are cheaper, offering value for your money and much cleaner compared to the current state of Barbados.
    Less visitor harassment too with less vitriol against visitors and whites starting at the immigration desks at the ports of entry!

  19. @millertheanunnaki,

    I am a Bajan and until you and your friends start a civil war or stage a military coup…I will travel to Barbados and tell all my friends and every person who is interested that Barbados is a great place to vacation.

    I have family living in Barbados and I have property in Barbados so it is in my interest to encourage Canadians to go there.

  20. @ Hants | January 25, 2013 at 12:09 AM |

    Why not come and live like a true-blooded ‘returned’ national and you will really get a true baptism of what it is to be a “Can-Bajan”?

    Or do you prefer to live in your bitterly cold arctic zone with all the courteous conveniences and smelly garbage piling up on the streets not infiltrating your pristine nose holes?

  21. David,

    A 7 per cent decline in January would not surprise many. There does not seem to be any plan at the moment. No short to medium term marketing strategy and the industry just appears to be drifting, leaderless.
    No policymakers have commented on the unpaid marketing bills and what can be done to redress the current situation.
    Once again, its the burying of the heads in the sand and hoping when they surface, everything will be ok.

    • The issue here is that we don’t get timely updates from tourism officials. What is the marketing strategy? Has the strategy changed? There is no dialogue in keeping with the fact that tourism continues to be our most important sector. In the guava season we are experiencing the MoT, BHTA, BTA should all be singing from the same hymn book.

  22. Was does a decline of 7 per cent mean?
    Well, when you compare it with January 2012 , which was also down on the previous January, it means a fall of 3,683 long stay visitors. Simply put , thats a loss of over 16 FULL British Airways B777 aircraft during the month or 4 days each week.
    Depending on which markets are principally effected, this will also furher reduce average stay and spend.
    We need some solutions.

  23. @Adrian

    The loss of 700 family rooms ie. Almond and Casurina is being blamed. How can numbers be up when we have given up so much room stock? Also the advertising responsibility which Almond undertook?

  24. David,

    We have ‘lost’ 37 hotels over the last 20 years and still witnessed some growth. Yes! of course the the closure of Almond Beach Village will come into play, but Casuarina has remained open (at least since it was enlarged/refurbished years ago) and it will be shortly re-branded as a COUPLES resort. When comparing the 4 years, 2004-2007 with four years 2008-2011 we are DOWN over 48,000 long stay visitors and this cannot be blamed on the ABV closure, can it? Once you add further losses in 2012, this number will creep up to almost 100,000 long stay visitors. Another estimated 4,000 in January 2013 alone (our peak season).

    Other destinations are experiencing increases in visitor arrival numbers from all our market markets.

    I believe it is long overdue that we revisit exactly how we market Barbados and this has to start with the BTA.

  25. David,

    Not quite sure I understand. Casuarina is still a family hotel at least until it is re-branded a COUPLES from end of April or early May. Plus we have lots of other family hotels. For instance Turtle Beach, next door.
    I not sure how this could influence arrival numbers before May?

    And don’t forget that our hotels on Barbados barely average an occupancy rate of 50 per cent per annum againist a Caribbean average of around 63 per cent.

  26. Another sat. travel section in the ottawa citizen newspaper and yet again not one add for Barbados big write up on Dominican Republic trips everywhere Bonaire St Kitts Varedero 599 all incusive Porta plata. Jamaica . Does Barbados really have an embassy in ottawa???? what are they here for??? The diplomatic nightlife?? get out and promote your country According to one acticle river cruising is the next big thing down the rhine or danube etc . It has been getting a lot of play on our tv ads.

  27. Suppose Pat and ac will get a kick out of this report:

    Turks and CaicosUS helps Turks and Caicos recoup millions from Sandals Resort 
    In a deal that the U.S. helped craft, luxury tourism brand Sandals Resort International agrees to pay $12 million to Turks and Caicos government.Similar stories:
    The involvement of U.S. law enforcement officials in an ongoing probe into government corruption in the Turks and Caicos Islands has helped that government recoup $12 million from one of the Caribbean’s most well-known luxury resort companies — Sandals Resort.
    The company, which is run by Jamaican businessman Gordon “Butch” Stewart and carries the Beaches Resort & Spa brand, reached the agreement with the Turks and Caicos government and British special prosecutors probing corruption allegations in the tiny island chain.
    A statement issued Wednesday on behalf of the Special Investigation Prosecution Team (SIPT) said the payout was the result of the “extraordinary and unique” involvement of U.S. authorities who voluntarily released evidence.
    Read more here:

  28. So the DLP apologists want to blame the fall off in visitor arrivals from the UK on the global economy and the recession in the UK along with the dreaded APD?

    Then how come our poor Cinderella sister St. Lucia aka Helen has been able to increase arrivals from this source market?
    What is St. Lucia doing that we are not? Cleaning up and greening their country and offering value for money with courtesy and fine service with lots to see and enjoy at reasonably set prices?

    Maybe Jamaica and Cuba might put a lie to St. Lucia’s success not only out of the “depressed” UK market but also Canada even if the USA arrivals are hamstrung by the lack of airlifts hopefully to be soon rectified.

    Go ahead, St. Lucia the UK is behind you!

  29. @ David | January 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM |

    Is that how you see the British traveller? A tightfisted lot looking for cheap bargains? (LOL!!)
    Maybe the Scots but the average Brit also looks for value for money. Adrian can confirm or clarify.
    Maybe this is what is attracting them to SLU. Barbados is more expensive indeed; but does it offer value for money except in the case of Sandy Lane where money is no problem to that class of clientele.

  30. millertheanunnaki | January 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM |
    Then how come our poor Cinderella sister St. Lucia aka Helen has been able to increase arrivals from this source market?

    miller you wont hear it from Loveridge or Dass but arrivals from the UK to Barbados have increased for the same period.

  31. Branson, Which ‘same period’ are you talking about?

    Travel Weekly – ‘1.9 per cent drop in overall visitor numbers, but UK arrivals up 75,000 despite the presence of the Air Passenger Duty’.

    Not my words!

  32. @ Branson | January 27, 2013 at 2:28 PM |
    “miller you wont hear it from Loveridge or Dass but arrivals from the UK to Barbados have increased for the same period.”

    Yes indeed the numbers have increased for those using GAIA to join the liners for Caribbean Winter cruises. What magic indeed to count one visitor twice!

    The MOT would make an excellent peripatetic professore in the sleight-of-hand art of teaching the Course: “How to Lie with Statistics the DLP Bajan Way”

  33. Loveridge what rinky dink crap shite you bringing quoting a director of tourism in a magazine. He could be lying or not supplying the entire picture .Bring validated CTO stats or shut up. How come he did not mention cruise ship arrivals are down?

    You have not disproved that Barbados arrivals out of the UK increased for the period in question.

    Miller uncharacteristically a bit of truth in your submission it appears Barbados cruise ship arrivals are up but thats of no interest to the Loveridge/ Dass gloom and doomers. Rest assured the taximen and women are smiling broadly though.

  34. @ Branson | January 27, 2013 at 8:44 PM |

    Let us get this straight and clear enough to reflect the light of truth.
    Are you stating unequivocally that Barbados tourism arrivals for both long-stay (land) and cruise ship arrivals are up compared to previous years?
    That therefore makes you the purveyor of facts and truth while Adrian and Mrs Dass from the BHTA are both liars whose intent is to undermine this paranoid DLP administration. Now say that is not your intent to show them both to be liars and agent saboteurs!

  35. It is winter in North America. The last 2 weeks has seen dramatic variations in the weather.

    Tourism marketing is not an exact science.

    Once again I will say…The BHTA and hoteliers in Barbados need to do their own marketing if the BTA efforts are failing.

    If you own a business you have to find ways to make it profitable and Hotels are businesses.

  36. in the wider scheme when comparing numbers the smaller the number the smaller the decline percentage wise and the opposite also applies. when one looks at stlucia numbers they are smaller compared to barbados and a decline for barbados would show a larger drop than those of st lucias by percentage . BTW i read that england hotels are by far the worst.

  37. ac | January 27, 2013 at 9:26 PM |
    “BTW i read that england hotels are by far the worst.”

    So which ones are the best?

  38. The Gold List 2012
    Sandy Lane: Best for rooms

    miller here is one that can be found in barbados maybe not your cup of tea since you are a cheap skate

  39. @ ac | January 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM |

    One minute you accused the miller of being a toff looking down the nose at poor DLP Bajans and wanting to privatize all their social freeness. Next minute you call me a skinflint looking to live off the State.

    I’ll tell you what, ac! Let us settle for middle ground. I want to spend some time at the Four Seasons. When can I book in? On the Twelfth of Never under this administration?

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