Opportunities Still to Boost Visitor Arrivals

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression’.

‘The Caribbean also saw its largest number of stayover visitors in five years, with the region’s overall hotel occupancy increasing by more than seven per cent and room revenues up by nearly nine percent’.

‘About 25 million tourists visited the Caribbean last year, a more than 5 per cent increase from 2011. Its a growth rate that outpaced the rest of the world’.

These and other equally encouraging statements were recently uttered by Beverly-Nicholson-Doty, Chairwoman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. To the majority of the Ministers of Tourism within the Caribbean, it must be like hearing pleasurable music in their ears.

Sadly, not to Barbados, where instead of recording an almost 6 per cent growth in 2012, we experienced a 5.5 per cent fall in long stay visitor arrivals. A near 11 per cent differential. Any newly elected Government must consider the reasons behind this dismal performance as an imperative, before more hotels close, further lay-offs occur and remaining airlift is further eroded

Also interesting is the tourism spend in the Caribbean for 2012, which was estimated at US$27.5 billion an increase of 3.6 per cent over the previous year and the third successive year of increases. This again, seem to buck the trend on Barbados, where the overwhelming opinion across the industry is that average spend is down.

I was frankly amazed at the absence of dialogue and solutions on the current crisis in tourism leading up to the general election. Perhaps highlighted by when the moderator on the popular Down to Brass Tacks Sunday programme admitted that no-one from the sector’s trade association was available to participate.

Subject to regulatory approval, it would appear that the planned American Airlines/US Airways merger will take place. While there have been some reservations voiced, concerning the possibility of increased fares and curtailment of certain routes and/or cities served, my own view is that it will be largely beneficial for Barbados.

Back in November 2001, I proposed a promotion concept to the BTA and BHTA entitled Second Cities. The objective was to maximise the load factors on the then direct nonstop US Airways service between Philadelphia and Barbados, by targeting at the best and/or shortest connections. I did extensive research, crossing the US border at Niagara and personally driving through New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to gauge the demographics. My proposal included a combined BHTA/BTA roadshow and sales blitz in the selected cities.

A media and travel trade campaign would also run at the same time to help maximise provincial reach and awareness, by inviting both travel agents and travel writers on familiarisation trips to experience, first hand the destination. Sadly, like so many other ideas, it was never adopted or implemented, but maybe its time to look at this concept again once new flight schedules are announced by the combined carriers.

It is a shame that we lost the Dallas/Fort Worth route because this is one of the hubs that would have principally helped us perhaps more than others. Hopefully someone is working in the background to see what additional potential can be harnessed from the merger.

0 thoughts on “Opportunities Still to Boost Visitor Arrivals

  1. A nice little article about Barbados.

    Beyond Barbados

    By Sue Lawley
    The Caribbean island is turning to its rich history in a bid to attract tourists seeking more than white sand and rum punch

    High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/b8c749da-79f3-11e2-b377-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2LuE6AzuN

    The British have always had a love-hate relationship with the West Indies. They colonised the islands in the 17th century and as their taste for sugar became an addiction, developed them into its main source. The Caribbean became the cradle of the British slave trade, rich and cruel, defended against all-comers with determined ferocity.

  2. One thing everyone must keep in mind is Budgeting and because of high energy cost the cruise liners are not making long trips to port of calls like barbados, Unless the govt subsidies the cruise liners which some of the smaller islands are doing the decline would be expected but not as overstated as adrien would want people to believe, the govt is expecting decline marginally but not drastic, moreover during the high seasons the makeup in revenue is noticeable. One must take into account that govt cannot control how the cruise industry makes decision since they too have to make money

  3. ac, Please remember, these are not my figures. They are supplied by the Barbados Statistical Service and Caribbean Tourism Organisation. Barbados HAS subsidised the cruise companies. For SIX years Carnival Corporation were paid (US$1.2 million (I understand) each three years, to ‘guarantee’ 400,000 cruise passengers per year. The cruise sector is also subsidised in many other pays, they do NOT pay any substantial departure taxes (like air travellers) VAT on cruise packages or any taxes on consumables, NIS, Income or land tax, like their land based counterparts.

  4. Look again adrien. the point i am making is that the criuse industry is not going to make as many trips in the off seasons to countries like barbados because of high energy costs and budgeting restraints travelling to areas that are closer to their Port of call outside Miami like Jamaica !CUBA! and the domician repubilc would therfore benefit from the industry daily planning. the numbers does not give a true prespective of what is happening in the industry as to cost.

  5. ac, Thats why homeporting is so important and perhaps trying to build a reverse season market from South America. Perhaps we could also peruade the Trini’s to give highly subsidised fuel to the cruise ships as well.

  6. St.Kitts has been increasing their cruise ship arrivals better than any other country in the region. Read what they have bee doing to achieve success.

    BREA reports substantial growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St. Kitts, which increased from 117,000 in the 2005/2006 cruise year to 629,000 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, an increase of more than 400% as compared to an increase of 13% throughout the Caribbean over the six-year period.

    “St. Kitts’ recent outstanding performance in the cruise sector is directly attributable to several initiatives undertaken by Government following the decision to end sugar production in 2005,” said Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ricky Skerritt.

    “The improvements in downtown Basseterre, the development of shops, restaurants and key attractions, and the increasing the number of certified taxi and tour operators in anticipation of demand growth, have clearly had a very positive impact on the experience that St. Kitts offers to visitors.”

    Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/business/667036.rss#ixzz2Lx5aNYY4

  7. lokk David people can write anthing they want to impress but would only tell partial truth. but everybody knows what the main reason for the slump in the tourist inbdustry. Most of those cruise liners are losing money and in responfd dropping prices to attract customers , compettion among them is high and for govt to subsides them in this hostile economic climate is not going to be cheap,

  8. The cruise ship model is not a good fit for Barbados. If anything, it is but a further way to send tens of thousands of disappointed passengers back to whence they came to tell one and all to avoid the over-priced, over-promised rock at all costs. As if our TripAdvisor common complaints aren’t enough to deter those considering Barbados despite the lack of N American adverts. It gives the generally overweight seldom traveled on-a-budget visitor the opportunity to tell tales of a shuttered Sunday Bridgetown, of aggressive beach drug pushers and foul-mouthed taxi drivers, of service providers afflicted by malaise and indifference, of trash, trash everywhere. Forget the gobsmacked wide-eyed reaction to the total lack of value for money where food and beverage is concerned. We are not an all inclusive destination, we are not a cruise ship destination. Little if any net revenue comes from these ships while in port after subtracting the gov’t giveaways and the fact that at times 90% of passengers elect to stay on the boat. Our model is one of the well-heeled middle-aged traveler (please take note Rihanna fans) who demands proven not promised 4/5 star accommodations, and world class service. Sadly, with few exceptions, we no longer offer neither. Until the chip is removed from the many ignorant and arrogant shoulders, we will continue in our current tourism death spiral. Its all in the numbers, not the greeting card sentiments proffered as to what makes us special.

  9. You will learn one day that it is extremely difficult for those who have tunnel vision to face reality. They particularly hate when others are making sense and would gladly screw up good advice just to prove you wrong. The thick headed so called professionals in Bim are quite famous for this annoying trend.

  10. Seeing that we have been involved in tourism so long, it boggles the mind that those involved can not do a better job, of determining what is needed, and then addressing these issues..

  11. Georgie P, I think many people get frustrated with the time it takes the policymakers to respond and then often the response they get. I remember graphically putting forward a concept to the BTA board and being told that if it was such a good idea, why hadn’t somebody already done it. Can you imagine saying that to Bill Gates or some other entrepreneur.?
    I am watching very carefully who is appointed as the next Minister of Tourism and the composition of a new BTA board, pending restructuring.
    This will tell me, if this Government recognises the challenges the industry has, and is going to take the decisions to implement solutions.

  12. Adrian

    Keep watching but please don’t wait for a call. After they Fired you they ain’t want any advice from you.

    • This Ad appeared in the press today and the questions are being asked:

      Although the BTA offices at Harbour Road is considered a sick building, what is the logic to relocate to Warrens, where very few (if any) of our customers (visitors) will find them (or even try to)?

      Also why do they need over a week to move, when it could be done over a weekend, when most of us have to work?

      Also at the height of the winter season?

  13. Georgie Porgie wrote ” it boggles the mind that those involved can not do a better job”

    Remember when you worked in Barbados GP? It is not that they cannot do a better job. It is that they choose not to.

    remember the words of the late great Ossie Moore to his boss magistrate Nurse? “I can swim sir but I don’t swim.”

  14. David,

    Knowing just how long the BTA Harbour Road staff have been complaining about the ‘sick building’ it seems to once again defy any logic to move during the height of the winter season, over the same period as the Sandy Lane Gold Cup takes place. Why they could not have waited until April should be explained and to have the office closed for eight days seems totally unnecessary .
    Is the current BTS building one of the BIDC 63 units managed on Harbour Road and wouldn’t the renter have an obligation to ENSURE the building is fit for human use as well as collecting the rent?
    Were the enlarged offices at the LESC Centre considered as this at least could have serviced the delegates visiting the centre.
    My own option would have been for a brand new purpose built Conference Centre at Needhams Poiint (close at least to a hotel or two) with the BTA offices incorporated in it.
    Again, this appears to be re-active policymaking rather than thought through pro-active decisions being made. Is the move to Warrens intended to hide the BTA and then it will be easier for politicians to ignore or restructure them?

  15. Tourism growth outperforms global economy in 2012

    The tourism industry has outperformed the global economy in 2012 – growing faster than manufacturing, retail, financial services and communications.

    The industry has grown its total contribution to GDP by three per cent and increased the number of jobs by five million to 260 million.

    It means that, for the first time, one in 11 of all jobs in the world is now supported by tourism.

    More than ten per cent of all new jobs created in 2012 were from the industry.

    According to research from the World Travel & Tourism Council economic research, in 2012, tourism’s total economic contribution – taking account of its direct, indirect and induced impacts – was US$6.6 trillion in GDP.

    This is a rise of US$500 billion year-on-year.


  16. BARBADOS HOTELS OR SURPLUS OF.???????????????
    BARBADOS HAS MANY HOTELS! NONE ARE FULL..! yet we continue to build more hotels and condos for non existent guest.! i can not see the sense in this exercise.the only reason such things would be done is #1/some billionaire wants to get away from cold weather and one way of living in barbados is to buy your way in.#2/the money used to build these hotels and condos are built with dirty money and laundered by the process of selling them.#3 some billionaire will buy his way in to barbados and then bring his friends in and live in luxury as residents of barbados totally unaware or uncaring of the poor and lower classes which are the majority of Barbadians.to them it is just a big party and they bring their foreighn chefts and hotel workers whom are personal friends.
    This is against barbados law of course but goes on frequently.especially on the west coast of the island.you will see adverts in the news paper for chefs and hotel workers ,management etc and apparently no Barbadian has the credentials they require .This is purposely done and very clever so they can bring in more foreigners possibly friends or friends of friends.so they can all live it up in barbados illegally.Yet legal by paying off some member of the government.
    i would think there would be a department of government to check on such things,problem there is that department would also take bribes.
    so how can this exercise be fixed.?????????????
    i see no way. and it will be eventually be the undoing and destroying of my island home.
    i care but Barbadians do not protest anything in any large amount of protesters.
    they are kept stupid with the rum and wuck up party factor.whilst others plot their down fall.
    secretly laughing and looking down on the poor Negroes which them makes them feel special about them selves.as where they come from they are not really nothing but in barbados they can become who ever they want as long as they have money.
    a life of fantasy.but the truth may be they are lying about every part of their life before barbados.
    and their barbados identity is made up and acted out of what they wish they were.
    that is how it is.

  17. This is a good article about Barbados tourism. It’s just that the competition is getting more intense in the region so the island will have to be more innovative in its vacation products.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.