What Are We Doing Wrong in Tourism?

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

The bad news is that long stay visitor arrivals have declined in each and every single month over the last consecutive fourteen months. The good news is that in May, the fall was the lowest in that entire period with just 29 less arrivals than the corresponding month last year.

With the end of the only national marketing initiative, Barbados Island Inclusive, we are back again in this massive vacuum of marketing uncertainty. The non-tour operator dependent hotels will now be scrabbling around to see what, if any, additional funds they can spend on promoting their properties.

Up until the end of May, we were already 16,151 long stay visitors down, when compared with the same period in 2012, and that year was down by 31,421 over 2011. Some tourism policymakers are predicting that we (Barbados) will end the year ‘flat’ and hopefully that will be proven right. But sadly, the odds are overwhelming against it. Arrivals would have to average almost 50,000 people each month for the rest of 2013. Especially when you think we have not reached above this target in four out of five months this year, and those included our peak winter months.

Clearly, there appears to be this unscalable wall to any attempts in influencing change in the way we are attempting to do business. It’s almost as if, those in decision making positions have simply given up. Perhaps even more frightening, is when you hear widespread comments  carried in the media that Barbados is ‘outperforming’ many other Caribbean destinations. Regrettably, no journalist asked the obvious question, well isn’t that due to the majority of the other islands having less room stock? This is just like saying Barbados is ‘outperforming’ Montserrat, which sadly in reality, is the only English speaking regional destination currently with a worse performance than us.

As we move further and further away from restoring viability in the sector, it becomes ever more difficult to even contemplate the critical upgrading and re-positioning that is necessary for recovery and survival. Meanwhile, in this inertia, the global competition is getting closer to us. The Thailand based Six Senses Resorts and Spa group have announced they will be opening in nearby St. Lucia in March 2015. 53 one and two bedroom hotel villas, 48 luxury homes and 62 apartments spread over 60 acres located at Freedom Bay in the foothills of the Pitons. The property will harvest rainwater for irrigation and use geothermal techniques for energy usage. Already operating in Europe, China, Maldives, Vietnam, Thailand, the Middle East and Africa, currently their only other regional property is in the Dominican Republic.

Again, it brings the strength and benefits of another world-class brand and all the marketing advantages that comes with it. This is yet another issue that has to be addressed, as to why our neighbours have been so much more successful in attracting the big names. The initial interest seemed to be there, with brands like Rosewood, Meridien, Banyan and dare I mention Four Seasons, but none of them have so far materialised.

Six Senses are not immune from the recession either, so what are ‘we’ doing wrong?

124 thoughts on “What Are We Doing Wrong in Tourism?

  1. @ Adrian Loveridge | July 7, 2013 at 11:37 AM |

    Why not turn Almond formerly Heywoods into a natural reserve for liberated humans and market it as “Bajan Hedonism at its best” with Rihanna the selling face of this niche brand?

    We need to think outside the woods and try to appeal to much sought-after money spending niche markets including catering for the GLBT communities across the world.

  2. David,

    we have already lost the airlift and even with 396 rooms (ABV) out of circulation, many of our hotels are barely ticking over at 30 per cent occupancy. You only had to read the comments by Elite Island Resorts (the Club).
    Government acquiring and operating ABV will NOT address the problem, it will compound the crisis we already have, but that is just my opinion.

  3. Windian…..please go and pass your smelly windy backside elsewhere. You have brought NOTHING to this forum except stinking farts. Go fart elsewhere, PHEW

    • In our excitement let us not forget government is already in the hotel business:

      $18M burden
      Needhams Point Barbados. ( Internet Picture)
      By GERALYN EDWARD Business Editor | Thu, January 10, 2013 – 12:10 AM
      AUDITORS FOR THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED NEEDHAM’S POINT DEVELOPMENT INC. fear that an $18 million debt burden could drag down the company.
      The concern was outlined in the independent auditor’s report submitted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the just released 2011 annual report of the company that was laid in Parliament last Tuesday.

  4. @ ac | July 7, 2013 at 2:11 PM |
    “And so far alll Adrian has brought is pessisism”

    Still better than ac’s ‘Nothing’, would you say?

    Give us at least one solution, snapping turtle!

  5. David, and I will not admit to sending this article to you, just in case someone calls me a pessimist. My ONLY concern is that we don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

  6. look I have given many ideas regarding the tourism program. as a matter of fact I have seen many mentioned in respect to being alternatives, anyhow I am not one to toot my horn. leave that to the egomaniacs like miller ! bushie ! and the village lawyer class clown Caswell.

  7. There is no problem with Government buying Almond/Heywoods per se but it seems that there is always kickbacks/favoritism/ and other malfeasance in every project in Barbados.

    If not rebuilt and refurbished soon it will become a rat infested home for vagrants.

  8. Isn’t the definition of stupidity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? I understand government’s need for a quick fix. If Butch or Doyle took it over it would probably take 2 to 3 years to refurbish it properly, and govt. doesn’t want to wait. Fair enough, but right now government is scrunting to find $400 million in cuts, and they are only talking about spending a few million on refurbishment. Come on folks! We all know that a) it will take a lot longer than a year and b) the few million will run into a lot more with plenty of feeding from the fabled “fatted calf”. We should take the time, let somebody else spend the money and end up with a world class facility, and the marketing muscle to go with it.

  9. Prodigal I am with you on this one. You know how our people does crab mash everything and think it is world class. It is just like entering the grand prix with a donkey cart and expect to win. I always say start half ass and end half ass. When can our government move at briskly? NEVER! It is dog going back to eat its vomit…..dem sell Heywoods because it was dead weight and lost money pon the sale to BS&T. Now they are buying it back with money they don’t have. Stupse. When poor rakey people trying to play professionals in an industry they have had a poor track record for success will only lead to more problems for this island.

  10. @ Peltdownman | July 7, 2013 at 6:57 PM |

    Agree with what you said.

    But just marketing it as just another inclusive beach resort is not good enough; neither can it make a difference.

    Why not market it as an “exclusive’ resort with a mix of hedonism, gambling and with cabaret performances by world renown artistes on offer to niche communities including nature lovers in the buff and the GLBT communities.

    It can even be promoted as a place to hold the Best and Beautiful of Ms or Mr. World in the Nature, Gay or Lesbian or Transgender communities as happen in places like Thailand attracting thousands of well off people from across the planet.
    Even Sexcetera, Sexcetera might come and do a few filming as they do in Jamaica, freely promoting the Island.

  11. What Are We Doing Wrong in Tourism?
    What ever you all are doing , you are still doing it ,and doing it wrong , for it dont seem to be working ,
    Think of what people want and not what you want for them,.

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