Restructuring of the Barbados Tourism Authority Board Promised

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

The honest intention of this column has never been to be controversial for the sake of it,  more to pose questions that perhaps often only need to be asked as a result of poor communication. One of the eight stated tourism DLP objectives contained in the 2008 Manifesto was to restructure the Barbados Tourism Authority. Of course in over five years holding office, it simply did not happen.

Sadly, while I tried to obtain a copy of both party’s 2013 printed Manifestos, our local constituency BLP branch had run out and the DLP office was closed on the day we tried. But I understand that the same objective has been promised again in the second DLP electoral term, with a planned formation of two new organisations, one concentrating on marketing and the other dedicated to developing the product. The question I am therefore asking, with an overwhelming majority during the period 2008-2013, why could the restructuring not be implemented?

During my brief period sitting on the BTA Board of Directors, I remember asking the then Chairman, what was the timescale for re-organisation. Hardly hesitating, he responded ‘six months’, which at the time I thought, was very optimistic.

The administration was re-elected after the 21st February poll, by a tiny majority, with nearly 40 per cent of the eligible electorate choosing not to bother voting at all. Compound this with the widespread alleged vote buying, we are at best left to guess whether if in fact it took place and as a result had any overall effect on the final results. Don’t get me wrong, I am personally in favour of the proposed restructuring. You only have to study the arrival figures, average stay and spend for the last five years to see that it is overly evident that ‘we’ as a destination are not performing to our optimum.

The Minister of Tourism seems to share this view, quoting him in the media verbatim ‘There have been endless complaints about the operation of the BTA from the private sector’. Therefore, we are restructuring to make the entities modern, responsive and private sector orientated. By putting the right people and the right systems in place in terms of the running the organisation, we should see better results’.

I don’t think many private sector tourism partners could disagree with any of these noteworthy intentions. The Minister also stated that the issue will soon go to Parliament ‘to become part of the laws of Barbados’. So when this eventually happens, will any of the Government’s elected members be off the island, on one of the many overseas trips or missions undertaken? Will the Opposition unilaterally agree and vote for the restructuring plan to ensure that it really happens? And then even assuming it has the three required readings in the Lower House, will it be rubber stamped by the Senate?

It was a joy to listen to some of the submissions of the Independent Senators during the recent estimates debate and hear, at least for me, clearly knowledgeable, well researched and pertinent questions being asked on the subject of tourism.

Does this indicate a new chapter in the direction of our tourism industry?

33 thoughts on “Restructuring of the Barbados Tourism Authority Board Promised

  1. Let us see how long it takes to operationalize the new tourism policy. One would imagine some priority is being given to it given the parlous state of the tourism industry.

    • Also can Barbadian taxpayers dear to question if the Rihanna advertising campaign is as effective as we would have hoped?

  2. “By putting the right people and the right systems in place in terms of the running the organisation” Now that’s the rubber. Who determines who “the right people” are? Is there a strong track record of determining “the right people”. Was the last BTA head the “right” person? How about the one before him, or the one before before him? Hmm, laws were changed to facilitate “the person” for the Chief Justice post …and then what? Do we have “right person” as Chief of Police?

    Of course the overriding question is:- are institutions that are prepared to purchase support, accept bribes and kickbacks as the standard operating business procedure, the “right” types of institutions to be designing and implementing public policy?

  3. David,

    I think the BTA Chairman is in a denial mode. Even up to last week he was telling the media how successful the Rihanna campaign has been, but look at the numbers. 2012 – down 6.2 per cent (over 30,000 visitors). 2013, so far down 8.2 per cent, the critical peak winter season. While the BSS website was down for two weeks, its now back up and running, but no arrival figures for February have been posted

  4. Have you ever given any thought to the fact that it maybe because of the government that you support policies that have caused Mr Loveridge’s hotel to be closed! Think on it!

  5. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

    I hope the new BTA will recognise that Barbados is a nasty stinking island that need cleaning.

    Then it can become beautiful Barbados again.

  6. @Loveridge
    One big reason nothing was done 2008-2013 was that there were political square pegs in round holes.Austin Husbands lost a second time in St James North and the political clowns put him at the BTA as a deputy chairman.All one could see almost weekly was this liliputian disembarking airplanes at Grantley Adams Airport.What was he doing but wasting taxpayers dollars.What was his knowledge of this top money earner for Barbados, since one brasstacks caller kept referring to him as a Harrison College beachbum.Now he is being called a BTA has been nuisance because everytime the BTA is shooting film in Speightstown for exposure of their product,this vertically challenged short- knee crotch shopkeeper is giving them hell for leather.Another DLP failure big time.

    • It puzzles why Austin felt the need to call Brasstacks to complain about the street being blocked for a couple of hours. Even if he has a legitimate grouse as deputy chair of the BTA did he not have other options? What can we read into his act to call?

  7. @ David

    You asked if Rihanna advertising campaign was effective. But let’s back up further to ascertain value hence effectiveness: what exactly is the contract between the tax payers and Rihanna . And please don’t anybody shout confidentiality, cause that is the first sign of fraud

  8. Rihanna can be as valuable to Barbados as Bob Marley is to Jamaica.
    The song “One Love” is played in most Jamaica Tourism Ads.

    Rihanna singing a verse from one of her songs can be used in the same way.

    Her fans are likely to visit Barbados when they are older ( 30 to 50 years old) and that is the value of having one of the biggest pop stars in the world on your team.

  9. My view is that we have some top class Barbadians and we don’t do enough to highlight this fact to the world of tourism.All of these Bajans are giants in their own right and I am not putting them in any special order of importance;Sir Garfield Sobers,Rihanna,Suki King,The Mighty Gabby,The Merrymen,and the Barbados Police Band.

  10. December 2012 long stay arrival figures were posted on the Barbados Statistical Service website on 1st February (32 days)
    January 2013 long stay visitor arrival figures were posted 7th February (35 days) so WHERE are the February figures (40 days so far) ?

  11. all of you please hold your breath until this happens.
    you see if you are not totally stupid .barbados is a dump compared to other destinations which are cheaper and have more mannerly people and not murderers and nasty people .hold your breath till ya heart burst .
    cause barbados has been ruined by the Negroes for long time now ,bad service,below standard ,nasty people,nasty place.
    ==== no return visitors. not to mention stealing and rapes.and general filthiness.IT CAN NOT BE FIXED.! AS IT IS GONE PAST THAT TIME BY SOME 20 YEARS AT LEAST.

  12. I was recently told that 60% of the BTA budget paid for administrative expenses. My personal experience with the BTA has only ever been bad; bad decision making, lack of decision making, failure to meet commitments, contracts not honoured, a useless London office that seems to be for show only etc. The best restructuring of the BTA we could expect is its disbandment with the funds going to the private sector tourism organisations.

  13. I felt that knowing the gravity of Barbados’ economic situation and that we would need tourism to really be firing on all cylinders, the PM should have gone with a new minister, not put back Richard Sealy in the Ministry of Tourism. He has been a colossal failure as far as I am concerned! He does not have a clue as to where our tourism should be going far less how to manage it. His solution……….split the BTA into two………..that should do it! Bravo!!!

    I have opined before that all of the overseas offices need shaking up, some of the staff in the Toronto office have been there for over 15-20 years, certainly they are tired doing the same thing over and over. The head honcho in London is there only for her self. Speak to any of the staff who served there and you would hear horror stories of her lack of management style and her attitude towards staff, no wonder things are the way there are. She is a celebrity wannabe which comes first and Barbados second! Time for change!

  14. @Not Taken

    Thomas Cook are just about “hangin in ” them selves.

    The “Blind leading the Blind”

    Dont get over excited!!

  15. @ Prodigal Son
    “Time for change….”

    LOL, Ha Ha Ha …..muh belly! Hold muh!,
    …you mekking sport right Prodi? CHANGE? You mean small change…like quarters, cents etc?

    You realize that elections done right?
    You understand that all o’ we on the the same boat –
    Titanic Barbados right?
    Wuh if the captain did not make decisions when they had almost universal support after the last captain walked the plank …you looking for change now with a barely 16-14 majority?

    Unless your side takes the unprecedented decision to support reasonable issues in the national interest – prepare your behind to land in the grass hear…!? …then wunna could wait and hope to inherit the wreck after the next elections are called…

  16. David wrote,”Here is a look at the profile of the BTA person responsible for developing the Canadian market.”

    I looked at the profile and you could not find a better qualified person for the position.

    The Canadian market has become complex because of changes in immigration.
    Englis,Irish and Italians have been replaced by Indians,Sri lankans,Philipinos and Chinese.

    I am sure the BTA has a plan to deal with the changed Canadian market.

  17. Listed as the LEAST Friendly Country in the world at no 140 is Venezuela.Trinidad comes in at 133 and Haiti at 135.
    Now hear this:
    Lebanon is listed as the MOST Friendly Country in the world at no1.Following a close 2nd Most Friendly Country in the World is BARBADOS.
    Now take that Mr Correcto and smoke it while you are in the jungle.

    • @Adrian

      Were you at Divi today? Some hairy stuff being narrated by hoteliers which should make all Barbadians sit up! For a moment thought they were talking about Jamaica.

  18. Tourism will only go lower before it goes higher, 2014 and 2015 will probably be the lowest. Throwing money at it will not help the situation, offices all over the place will not help either. More money the country does not have.
    Globally the next couple of years are going to be far worse than the last few so batten down the hatches.
    The serious internal issues such as the economy and crime and the morons in power need to be addressed way before the subject of tourism needs to be looked at.

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  21. I don’t know where these new comers come from, but I think it is timely (13 months later) to resurrect this discussion.


    With the Barbados Tourism Act due to be repealed on August 2, dissolving the BTA, and making way for Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, and Barbados Tourism Product Authority, it would be timely and interesting to read your thoughts.

    In particular I would like comments on the recent arrival of BTA UK chief Petra Roach to become interim president and chief executive.

    BTA chairman Adrian Elcock said: “Ms Roach has been instrumental in delivering exceptional results in our main source market, the UK, for the past 12 years.

    Frustrated Businessman referred to the UK operation as the “useless London office that seems to be for show only etc.

    Who are we to believe?

  22. DD, I cannot really see much rationale for seperating the BTA at this stage. Maybe 4 or 5 years ago. But it will totally depend on exactly who is attracted/appointed to the two new entities. If it is down to political cronies then I can already see failure. Personally have a lot of confidence in Petra. She works hard, is passionate and perhaps the very best attribute, listens.

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