Hotelier Paints Bleak Outlook

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

There is a very fine line, when writing a column like this. The risk of being branded as a pessimist is high. I only hope that readers will focus on the message that is trying to be conveyed and perhaps apply some of the content objectively to look at issues in a broader more holistic way.

When I heard the Minister of Tourism recently predict that he anticipated long stay visitor arrivals in 2013 should reach the same levels as last year, frankly I was surprised. Look at our largest single market, the United Kingdom has already experienced a decline of 15,631 visitors in 2012, when compared with 2011.

In the first week of May, Virgin Atlantic brought forward from October 27 their planned change of aircraft on the Gatwick/Barbados route by substituting the larger B747 aircraft with smaller A330 equipment on each day of the week, except for Thursdays. This immediately cuts up to 1,134 seats weekly and by the end of December this year I estimate to be almost 40,000 seats lost. Put another way, we will lose airline capacity for nearly 23 per cent or around one in four of all our British land based arrivals annually, which in 2012 totalled 173,519 persons. It is also not unreasonable to conclude that at least 50 per cent of those lost seats could have been used by the largest tour operator into Barbados, Virgin Holidays.

Has anyone considered the incredible overall loss of occupied room nights this will bring to our hotels and the devastating financial consequence? Needless to say, its not just the negative effect on our accommodation providers, but the trickle down effect it will have on restaurants, attractions, activities, car rentals, shopping, taxis etc. And at a time when Government most needs higher tax collection, the loss of non reclaimable VAT on all these tourism offerings.

It’s vaguely conceivable, that our policymakers imagine they are going to make up the numbers from other major markets, like the USA and Canada, but this is extremely unlikely. Out of these two sources, there was negligible growth in 2012. But sadly so far, in the first four months of 2013, there has been an average monthly decline of 11.9 per cent from the United States and 9 per cent from Canada.

Of course, we do not have the winter climatic advantage for most of the remaining eight months, so this trend is hardly likely to change without extensive cost-effective ‘consumer facing’ marketing and a dramatic improvement in destination visibility overall. Yes! there are a few rays of sunshine on the horizon. The Thomas Cook double-drop charters from Manchester and TUI flights from Hamburg, but these do not commence until November, and clearly will not come anywhere close to making up the Virgin deficit.

This scenario regrettably paints a very gloomy picture, but personally I believe we must start to face this reality and implement measures needed to redress this situation, rather than repeatedly utter predictions, which are at best, whimsical and almost impossible to achieve with the status quo.

0 thoughts on “Hotelier Paints Bleak Outlook

  1. The Leader,

    You are correct. Barbados is on the way to becoming like Jamaica in many regards on the present trajectory.

    We along with some others within and without Barbados must help rescue this country from out of the deep abyss decay that it has been in for a very long time, and set it on a trajectory of overall national growth and development.


  2. David,

    YES! Barbados Island Inclusive offers BDS$300 worth of ‘free spending’ vouchers to Caribbean (regional) people booking 5 night stays (or longer)and BDS$200 for 3 night stays. The BHTA StayCation programme also offers special rates to this market. I am not sure just how ill-informed Well Well is, but for a long time the Caribbean has been our third largest market in terms of long stay visitors. Larger in fact than Canada.

  3. David,

    Just for the record. 2012 Long Stay Visitor Arrival numbers*.

    UK – 173,519
    USA – 130,762
    Caricom – 96, 487
    Canada – 72,020

    The regional (Caricom) number may be higher because other countries are listed as another heading and may include some regional countries who are NOT members of Caricom.

    * source – Barbados Statistical Service.

  4. I thought that BA operated the most UK to Barbados flights – they certainly do whenever I’m booking.

  5. Barbadosbelle.,

    BA currently operates B777-200ER aircraft on the Gatwick/Barbados route in four classes, with a total number of seats at 229. So even with the introduction of A330-300 by Virgin Atlantic, they will still have a greater overall seating capacity.

  6. Adrian………….are you telling me that more cannot be done to improve and entice regional long stay visitors to Barbados? i saw some figures that I remember vaguely from some years ago, and in my opinion there was ample room for improvement. I am sure it would cost less to entice a regional visitor than a US or European one. Please explain, i am willing to listen.

  7. Well Well,

    The Caribbean market has always been the least resourced in the BTA scheme of things, despite holding the position as our third largest market. Our challenge now are the very high airfares, largely driven by ludicrously high taxes. Barbados could lead in this direction by reducing departure taxes and removing the VAT on all intra Caribbean travel. While Caribbean Airlines continue to receive massive subsidies in fuel costs and having the T&T Government writing off huge debts, LIAT barely has a chance. I think if you are fair, you will find very few more committed individuals to growing inter-regional travel than myself, who conceived and ran the re-DISCOVER the Caribbean initiative and show for eight years, largely with our own monies. The re-DISCOVER programme gave the BTA a ROI of 1:40., higher than just about anything they had ever supported. The latest Barbados Island Inclusive programme will give them (rather us the taxpayer) a ROI of 1:1.76 (less than $2 return on each $1 spent).
    The reason given for the BTA not supporting the last planned re-DISCOVER Show was that out of 130 plus staff, they could not find two willing to ‘man’ their stand for one and a half days.
    I still think that even with LIAT’s challenges, there are opportunities there to help build the market. They are going to NEED additional revenue to help pay for the new ATR’s.

  8. The trick is to convince the BTA employees that regional tourism is every bit as important as tourism from North America and Europe.

  9. Well Well,

    I am sure some are convinced. I have a lot of respect for some of the BTA staff in the Caribbean dept. The problem I had with the higher levels, that they could not see the initiative as benefitting Barbados. It seemed impossible to convince them that the aircraft should be full in BOTH directions and that it was just as important for the planes to arrive and depart full. A BTA investment of $25,000 brought $1 million in foreign earnings annually. But they are spending $11 million to HOPEFULLY generate $30 million before ‘free spending’ discounts.

  10. @Adrian
    @Well Well
    I know that Alvin will say this is negative ,maybe you both will too.
    But as I said lets get REAL as in Realistic.
    Realism is NOT Negativity.
    To bring the matter into the realm of the “everyday” which holidays are.
    Ask your self why you shop where you do for your groceries.
    Thats about as everyday as you can get.
    If you are like me;
    The place has what you want
    The prices are what you want to pay(Not that you feel after it was NOT a good deal)
    The Presentation and quality are up to your expectations.
    Four ,
    the place is easily accessable(not costing a fortune to get there)
    Its clean and the staff are helpful and professional.
    Its a place you dont mind being in or being seen in.
    For holidays add maybe excitment and different environment

    You get the idea?
    People choosing Holidays have a lot of choice.
    It is a BUYERS Market.They are not like us, looking at Survival decisions.
    Now lets just for a minute be a middle class family of 4 sitting at dinner .Relaxed and talking about where they would like to visit for the annual 2 or 3 weeks holiday.
    Useing the above as Criteria.
    Name me ONE reason why they would choose Barbados.
    Whether they be Caricom or International and I feel the above criteria are not too onerous.

    What can we,Barbados, offer that is not provided better; easier and at less cost else where in the World.
    I do not see that I can produce very much evidence to justify Barbados.
    Even Oistins which was very”local” has now been destroyed by some idiot in Goverment and looks like a cross between a public toilet and a bus depot.Lost all of its “Old Barbados” authentic feel.
    I took freinds there recently and was very embarassed,scrawny pieces fo fish ,so thin you can read the paper thro,cooked so they were like shoe leather, real ignorance and aggressive attitudes.
    Harrassed by bums.
    You can hire a car and see all Barbados has to offer EASILY in ONE DAY.
    NOW am I being NEGATIVE or Honest.
    You only got to worry about seats when SOMEONE wants to put their BUM in one and they DO NOT. Clearly explained by the cut in capacity by the airlines Adrian mentioned.
    The road is now shut.
    To get it reopened Barbados demand would need to be shown as there ; and there, for an extended period , before airlines are going to rearrange scheduals and planes now they have cut.
    So we all clearly can see that its NOT going to happen.
    Its taken years of Government ,Corruption and incompetance to bring Barbados down to the level it is currently at,maybe we could have “Skinned tro” if the “Coup de grace” of the world finacial collapse had not occurred.
    As it is ,we are “High and Dry” plus whatever you TRY to do will be “laidwaste” by the real NEGATIVITY of those elected.But simply in office to complete a second term and collect the life long payoff and along the way skim of any cream..
    If your bathrrom is flooded do you start mopping up the floor while the pipe still running.
    MAN Lockoff de pipe!!

  11. Adrian…………..some people just don’t grasp economics nor that cash flow has to be a two way street to keep money circulating.

  12. @Adrian,
    Couldn’t members of staff from ANY hotel which was a member of BTA, or even from among hotels who are not members of BTA, be found to volunteer time to man the Booth for the time required? Interesting.

    • @Alvin

      Checking to confirm that you are aware the BTA is a legal entity, a hotel is a different legal entity etc. How do you recommend an employee of a hotel representing the BTA?

  13. Speaking of Oistins:

    Whoever is ultimately responsible for the reconfiguration of the booths in the Oistin fish fry venue a few years ago must have rocks for brains (IMHO). The worst thing they did was to cut off the eating area from any view of the ocean so that the eating area is now confined to the open space between the two de facto walls provided by the two rows of cooking booths and nary a glimpse of the beach or moonlight on the ocean is to be had, far less the soothing sounds of waves lapping gently on the shore.

    If my last Friday night visit (which admittedly was a year ago) is anything to go by, on a Friday/Saturday night you have the additional doubtful pleasure of having your eardrums blasted out of your skull box by the “music” played at a decibel level apparently in an open competition with a space rocket launch at Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre. I can only surmise their has been an unannounced competition to see which of the two events can make the most head splitting, gut vibrating noise levels this side of the next eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera.mega-volcano.

    Made the mistake of taking a friend there on a Friday night last year. Food was ok and prices weren’t bad (for Barbados), but it was the first time I had been back since they had rebuilt and reorganized the booths, and it just blew me away that the the much touted redesign and “improvement” had gone ahead and cut off the view of the seafront and stuck the patrons in this glorified alleyway formed between the two rows of cooking stalls. Then the noise, er… I mean “music” started up full blast and we bolted down our food and split toute suite. Haven’t been back since.

  14. Alvin,

    It seems ‘we’ have failed miserably to explain how tourism works here.

    The BTA is the national tourism ‘marketing’ agency of Government and receives up to BDS$100 million a year of taxpayers monies to function as such.

    The BHTA is the trade association of the private sector tourism industry
    and has ALWAYS supported the re-DISCOVER the Caribbean initiative and ‘manned’ a stand at most shows. The one or two that they have not been at, is because there were up to 12 separate stands representing the Barbados private sector tourism industry.

    The current EVP of the BHTA (Sue Springer) has been an outstanding supporter of the show and has several times volunteered her very precious time to support the show. I can recall at least two years when she actually helped us set up the show.

  15. @ Dr Love | May 21, 2013 at 12:38 PM |

    I think you are being a bit harsh

    My wife and I are annual visitors from the great white north

    Spent a week at The Crane (for the first time) in March, It met all of your six criteria. The service was spectacular – everyone was welcoming, friendly and helpful.

    I agree that Oistins has gone down hill.

    I do not agree that you can see all that Barbados has to offer in ONE DAY. We always rent a car; and it takes us at least two days to do the East Coast tour. Lunch at the Bay Tavern is one good reason to keep coming back.

    Suggest a school of hospitality run by the folks at The Crane and the Bay Tavern would be a good place to start to get Barbados reopened

  16. Smugglers Cove Resort in St. Lucia is under receivership and has been for some time…..Taylor is keeping a very low profile.

  17. CASTRIES, St. Lucia, 15 May 2013 (CMC) – The St. Lucia government has presented an EC$1.32 billion (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) budget to Parliament late Tuesday reducing the subsidies on basic food commodities such as rice and flour and increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) for the hotel industry.

  18. An airline cuts capacity on a route when not enough people are traveling, not to be spiteful to that destination.
    The reduction in the number of available Virgin seats will not affect visitor numbers because no-one was flying in the empty seats in the first place.
    Check this – “[Virgin has] brought forward from October 27 their planned change of aircraft on the Gatwick/Barbados route.” Would they do that if it affected their income. No. They are cutting the cost of the flight by flying a smaller plane as not enough people are coming here.
    Virgin’s reduction in capacity is a symptom, not a cause.
    Focus on getting more tourists here and the headline would be “Virgin has brought forward from October 27 their planned change of aircraft on the Gatwick/Barbados route to a larger aircraft.”
    If Barbados can attract the visitors, Virgin (and any other airline that can make money doing it) will fly them here.

  19. @Luvs Bim
    Thanks for the input. You are the guys that pay the countries bills.
    No I agree that a leisurely drive will prolong the time to two days max after all its a little over 14 miles,I know that a long way for Canadians:).

    If you were in the Med, you have Mallorca another small island ,with the caves of Draque and water parks and the cathedral , endless inexspensive venues for lunch and dinner. Valdemossa ancient town,.
    The hundreds of imaculate bays and small ports,Tranmuntana mountains, the cliffs of Bani albufa,Mueseums of international quality, Special roads for cyclists and walkers .Any amount of “places of interest from old Moorish forts thro to Glltzy marinas and ancient Monasteries..
    You can return there for years and still not see everything.People DO return there for years,the Island get 9,000,000 visitors.
    Now I compare BIM and what we have.
    What is there we have in Barbados for visitors to enjoy ,but the sand sea and sunshine.The bulk of the people are NOT coming back just for that .they can get it anywhere and at half the price.
    You may say sand and sea, thats what you want,so I am glad Barbados pleases you.
    It doesnt seem to be what the general run of the Mill people want; if they did WHY they are not here.
    It would be interesting for you if you tried booking in St lawrence gap on your next visit,have your wife insulted and propositioned as you walk down the street, be offered drugs and anything else you wish,if you wish. After you do leave your accomodation, please apply the criteria I outlined and see if you are still of the same mind please.
    The Crane is so far removed from mainstream Barbados its like on the Moon. But you can afford it ,and its peace and tranquility with Good Service to boot.

    In a first class hotel like the Crane ,anyplace, we can all experince service and satisfaction.

    The Crane is upmarket,you can say the same for Sandy lane.Not a large % of our total tourist visitors ,I would venture to say can afford either.
    Have you visited on a limited budget?Have you children ?
    Yes the east coast is so beautiful,but please tell me what you do ,that makes a 2 weeks holiday,what is there, that particularly you would say, we have, that is outstanding on the rest of Barbados ;That you cannot see in other island and make the same remarks.?
    I have been involved directly and look at the number of times I hear from freinds that deal with the arrivals how ,,on the very next day , visitors are complaining about the room quality and service and asking to be moved..
    We know the Crane personally and it not representative of the general Barbados tourist product. (Comments Adrian?)
    I am very gratefull that you LUV our country,but you are the returne’s.
    What we are worried about on this blog are the ones that do not return in big numbers. and the reasons why..
    I also LUV Barbados, but like the rest of us ,I cant live in the Crane Hotel and have to deal with the very disconcerting realities of life here.
    Yes I know this was a comment about Criteria and you didnt feel I was so fair with my comments, but you must understand at the end of the day its all about you ,how you relate and what you say when you get back home. .
    Yes the Crane is wondeful,I hope you will return for many years,after all what you see is what you beleive and its keeps you coming back,thats the main thing.
    Many happy returns to Paradise.

  20. Like they say, “It never rains, but it pours.”

    Blame B’dos

    by Shawn Cumberbatch

    British health authorities are pointing fingers at Barbados following a major surge in dengue fever cases in the United Kingdom.

    And nationals from what is the island’s main tourist destination are now being advised to exercise extra caution when traveling here in light of increased cases of the illness.

    Ever since January this year Barbadian health authorities have been reporting increased dengue fever cases and last week Chief Environmental Health Officer Tryone Applewhaite said his department and other officials were working on plans to mitigate the problem.

    This was especially so in the context of the upcoming rainy season, which begins next month.

    Continued here:

    • Six years later Minister Richard Sealy is committed to moving full steam ahead with separating product from marketing at the BTA:

      The Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) is to be restructured and broken into two institutions operating under the name Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

      Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, made this disclosure today, while addressing the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s 1st Quarterly General Meeting at Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, Rockley, Christ Church.

      He told the large gathering of hoteliers and industry officials, that the two entities – one with emphasis on marketing and the other on product development – would operate as a “wholly owned government limited liability company and will be solely responsible for marketing”.

  21. Dr Love …that is why they should sell Almond to the man Doyle from the Crane. All this shoite talk from the government that they want to buy it is nufff foolishness. Government has no right in the hotel business..they do not have a good track record. I pass Almond Beach village daily and if you see the tall grass and river tamarinds growing you will think it is rab land.

  22. Why does the government keep shooting themselves in the foot? Where is the Four Seasons today? All this shoite talk bout reopening the project what happen now? The silence is deafening!

  23. @ Dr Love
    Bushie has to disagree with you on a technicality…
    There is not one shoite wrong with Barbados ….except for the unprecedentedly large number of BRASS Bowls that reside here.

    The PLACE itself is near perfect.
    The climate is perfect
    The topography is perfect
    The sea and sand is …..out of this world
    The Atlantic breeze is to die for…
    The land is productive
    The water is naturally clean
    The rainfall is adequate and well distributed
    Even the infrastructure is fairly impressive.

    ….but the people are BRASS BOWLS.

    1- Barbados should ALWAYS have been marketed as a HIGH END tourist destination. It is the Sandy Lane and Crane customers that should be our market and NOT the back pack and economy groups.

    2- Whoever IDIOT(S) are responsible for allowing building on the sea coasts and the closing off of our coastlines from public view and access are stinking brass bowls. ….and their cousins are responsible for the design of the Oistin stalls, the Pelican Village, and most diabolical of all, the Eagle Hall Market LOL HA Ha 🙂 … OH Shoite!!!

    3. We now have the politicians, Lawyers, Priests, Teachers, Managers and journalists that we deserve as a nation of Bowls of Brass.

    What results can we expect…?

  24. Bushie said “The water is naturally clean”…..Bushie you wishing here pon that. Clean what? Many of the people in leadership I agree are Brass Bowls and they employ more Brass bowls to mess up this island. All I read is how this island should be marketed and no one is saying that we are marketing a stinking pissy and filthy island.

  25. @Bush tea
    Yep. as usual 100% on target.
    Eagle Hall!! OH MY!!! JEEEESUS!!! BLESS MAH SOUL!!
    Why someone never tell the body he had the plans upsiderdown.

  26. David,

    I just cannot understand what is taking so long. Clearly our tourism industry is in crisis. In 2012 we lost 31, 421 long stay visitors. For the first 4 months of 2013, we are already down 16,122 people, both when compared with the same periods previous year.
    The loss of a possible 36,000 to 40,000 seats out of Gatwick between May and October 27th and the end of December means that we have little opportunity to make these numbers up. If the April trend continues we could lose another 45,000 visitors by year end.
    I am not being an alarmist, but there seems to be a state of apathy and indecision.

    • @Adrian

      You don’t have to apologize for echoing your concerns. Your bio gives you that right.

      Let us hope what ever they are planning is implemented before 2018. What about the White Paper stuff?

  27. @GreenMonkey | May 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM |
    “Whoever is ultimately responsible for the reconfiguration of the booths in the Oistin fish fry venue … must have rocks for brains (IMHO). … they … cut off the eating area from any view of the ocean …nary a glimpse of the beach or moonlight on the ocean is to be had, far less the soothing sounds of waves lapping gently on the shore.”

    I understand completely what u mean. i live in Worthing but have never been to Oistins on the weekend. i will invite you to Martins Bay where on any day you can eat and enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean, i do not know the name of the establishment but it is easy to find, since the Martin’s Bay bus passes there. you will find tourists and locals alike sitting and enjoying that beautiful sea breeze while having a feast on the varieties of fish cooked to your satisfaction and the prices are so much better from what i heard being charged in Oistins

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