The Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism is the ONLY Lifeline

Adrian Loveridge

As we rapidly approach the start of the peak winter season I imagine that our public sector planners and policymakers and more proactive private sector tourism players are now in hyper-drive to maximise both revenue and occupancy during this critical period.

Certainly in the 40 plus years that I have been promoting Barbados I cannot think of a more crucial time than now, in our economic survival and possible recovery where tourism has such an important role.

When I hear repeated uttering’s from certain pundits that we have become far too reliant on tourism, it brings a wry smile, especially when they frequently offer no sustainable alternative. We have sadly almost let any hope of a vibrant agricultural sector implode, by choosing instead to deny any meaningful support or opportunity of feeding ourselves and visitors. Instead our Government has encouraged major hospitality providers to import endless numbers of refrigerated containers, free of duties and taxes.

Yes, there may be secondary benefits with employment generation, but when taxes are dramatically increased on what can only be considered as staple items for the masses and lest we forget our visitors too, what is the real overall benefit to the population at large?

If the truth is told, we face some severe challenges this winter, in at least two of our major markets. The United Kingdom still feeling the currency effects of what seems like a near impossible Brexit, compounded by a higher than anticipated inflation rate of around 3 per cent which will certainly impact negatively on property values and disposable income.

The new seasonal flights with Virgin from Heathrow and Thomas Cook from Gatwick will definitely help.

As with the current three times weekly Manchester Thomas Cook flight, this airline is frequently used by people looking for lower cost alternatives, especially second home owners and savvy holiday makers looking for more options including one-way tickets. This alone has enabled those who make multiple visits, to purchase their tickets in the UK avoiding our inhibitive 17.5 per cent VAT on air travel.

Follow the social media outlets carefully and what has grown from the occasional mention, to what now appears to be a steady stream of Canadians questioning whether we are truly, as a destination, offer value-for-money?

While the Canadian Dollar was on a par with its southern neighbour, this probably was not such a concern, but currently at around 79 cents to the US Dollar, we have to find more creative ways of dissipating that Barbados can be affordable to our many loyal returnees and new first time visitors from Canada.

Despite being our fourth largest market the overwhelming percentage of visitors applying for our re-DISCOVER discount voucher are Canadians. In fact they outnumber any other major market by a ratio of 4:1. This, to us, at least indisputably confirms the need to again, demonstrate that we can offer truly value-for-money if we have any hope of either maintaining or increasing arrival numbers.

Our USA market has been transformed in a relatively short period and personally I see this as having the greatest growth potential in the short to medium term. The head of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) has called for additional gateways, citing Washington, Maryland, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles as the most desirable. While the last two mentioned, previously may have previously had nonstop range challenges, the new aircraft being operated by some airlines, now make it a reality.

34 comments

  • What kind of lifeline has tourism been

    The deeper truth is that we have a fully bloomed rentier economy

    An economy where one member of that class – Kiffin Simpson

    Will largely determine the fortunes of whole sectors – tourism

    This doesn’t seem to be any secure lifeline for the country

    Like

  • Why not answer Adrian’s question- what are the sustainable alternatives we should be discussing?

    On Monday, 20 November 2017, Barbados Underground wrote: >

    Like

  • millertheanunnaki

    @ Adrian Loveridge:
    “The new seasonal flights with Virgin from Heathrow and Thomas Cook from Gatwick will definitely help.”

    Don’t you think that the tourist arrivals’ cart is being put before the health and safety horse?

    Do you really feel that the visiting Brits and Europeans would feel at ease having to face the shitty situation that is being played out on the South coast?

    Do these people really appreciate the gravamen of the risks being posed to public health and its implications for the resulting bad marketing image the country would have to deal with?

    What are the authorities waiting on?
    To see the entire collapse of public sanitation with the concomitant collapse of the only industry left to save the country from economic ruin?

    Why are the authorities trying to strangle the goose which is currently laying the only egg of economic survival?

    Just wait until the shit hits the fan at the Oistins Bay Gardens and then you would see which tourism devil you would be serving.

    Like

  • Yes, the sewage situation is going to affect our tourism and not in a good way. Yet no one seems to take responsibility for it. Estwick talks about solutions that are perhaps years down the road. By then it will be too late.

    Like

  • “Gov. Rick Scott will announce Monday at a Miami ice cream boutique that a record 88.2 million visitors came to the state during the first nine months of 2017.

    That represents a 3.3 percent increase over the same time period in the previous year.

    Scott said that Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, did an “aggressive” ad campaign following Irma to make sure people knew the state was still open for tourists.”

    Like

  • COMPETITION!

    “Florida Governor Rick Scott visited Toronto’s Union Station, to announce a new program for Canadians that includes 20 per cent discounts on airfare, rental cars and lodging.

    The price breaks are available through VisitFlorida.ca.

    Twenty-six businesses are participating in the program. Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations will also offer discounts.”

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington.

    A fair assessment of the situation.

    I wonder if the net value of the concessions to Sandals were ever really evaluated. But the past is for our learning. Let us move forward.

    It seems as though the South Coast sewerage problem is not being treated with a sense of urgency. Good grief . It is an engineering problem not a public relations exercise.

    Like

  • @Bernard

    Did you hear the MoF congratulating the government about its concessions to Sandals last week?

    Like

  • David

    You are being a bit disingenuous….an alternate growth path was offered for Bim on Bu.

    Tourism was to be removed from got and boards and stat.orgs disbanded……a yearly subvention to be given to the newly established NGO dealing with community tourism along the lines of airbnb but not limited to their model.

    Bring the 20000 odd acres back into commercial production with the introduction of Hemp as an added rotation crop for sugar.
    Establish processing plants for the production of value added items coming from these crops.
    Establish solarpowered green houses in order to reduce food imports as well as aquaponics to reduce our fish imports.

    UWI was to be mandated to come up with niche areas for us to export.

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington.

    @ David at 12:23 PM

    No I did not hear the M o F.
    How much Income and Indirect taxes were generated by the employees in the construction and operating phases?
    How much was the foreign exchange spent by the tourists ?

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    The country needs a lifeline, tourism is not it.

    Tourism is a facade, find a lifeline, find 2 or 3 lifelines, where there is a will, there is a way.

    Like

  • @Bernard Codrington, the problem is that income and taxes generated by the construction phase last only one year, while the tax concessions could last up to 40 years. The investment is a “one shot” deal, and there’s no evidence that the foreign reserves have benefitted substantially from it. Local input is mainly in cement and concrete – a fraction of the overall cost. Now, having been given the concessions, Sandals will hang Barbados “out to dry” in order to wring the same or better concessions for the Beaches resort. Antigua has shown that we can negotiate a deal without prostrating ourselves at Butch’s feet. And the foreign exchange spent by tourists – are you joking? Sandals is all-inclusive, paid for overseas. What their visitors spend in Barbados is pocket change.

    Like

  • I think a third factor is the hurricane damage. I am hearing a lot of talk, split 50-50 on whether this year’s southern trip should support a hurricane ravaged economy, or avoid it.
    Let’s hope it is a strong season for Bim.
    To me, if one is going to be blamed for being a full service tax haven, then its time to offer all the products. The demand for crypto options, suggests the demand for tax avoidance is growing.

    Like

  • Bernard

    You always seem to accept the official calculus as correct

    On the issue of Sandals, again you are caught up in a child’s arithmetic

    Comparing the value of concessions with expected receipts.

    The real issue is that the Sandal concessions, like others, have compromised the industry structure. And unless all other players receive the same concessions we will have bigger problems than before.

    The larger issue is the compromise of all other sectors.

    Is this neoliberal-capitalism, or not?

    Like

  • @Pacha

    Agree with your last comment. The government promised the locals similar (some) however based on feedback the process to access appears not to be a smooth one.

    Like

  • @ David
    The government promised the locals similar (some) however based on feedback the process to access appears not to be a smooth one.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This only goes to show the levels of albino-centric, brass-bowlery that is destroying Barbados.

    Can you imagine the local hoteliers AGREEING to accept the Butch Stuart travesty …PROVIDED that they get to ALSO screw the taxpayers.

    Did they stand up for the RIGHT thing to be done?
    Were they focused on JUSTICE? …FAIRNESS? …Community best-interest?

    NO!!!
    They just wanted to join Sandals in wukking up on our poor donkeys.

    …meanwhile, even the exploited brass bowls seem to be more focused on finding THEIR own schemes and cons to exploit – rather than seeking to impose righteousness (justice, fairness, honesty and community mindedness).

    How can there be a solution to such a dilema?

    Like

  • David

    We start from the point that everything these people say is a lie

    Everything they do is wrong, until proven otherwise.

    These are our points of departure, with all elites

    We would have to be idiots to presume otherwise, with their history.

    Like

  • Bushie

    You have the solution in hand, but wouldn’t do nothing bout em

    Did you ask to borrow our guillotine?

    Like

  • @Bush Tea

    Barbados depends on tourism. The local stakeholders are fully aware that the government is committed to the sector, it is the only game in town. The practical approach from their perspective is if you cant beat them join them.

    Are you prepared to answer Adrian’s question? What is the sustainable alternative to tourism?

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington.

    Pelt down. at 2:50 PM

    You have obviously appreciated the questions. I can only conclude that the net value added according to your calculations is negative.

    @ Pacha at 3:23 PM

    What make you think that I should adopt your perspective on this issue? Do I need your permission to adopt a tool of economic analysis ? Who do you think you are?

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington.

    @ David at 6 :32 PM

    Could it be that the technocrats pointed out the folly of the concessions and the difficulty of policing these concessions. The impact was reflected in the widening gap between tax revenues and expenditure.

    It is always necessary to design a model and run these proposals through the model. An economy is a complex system. The whole is not a sum of its component parts.

    Like

  • @Bernard

    Should the ‘folly’ have been highlighted BEFORE the MoF made the offer?

    #askingforafriend

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington.

    @ David, David

    Yes.The folly would have been highlighted had the proposal been discussed with the technocrats. They are not that dumb.

    Like

  • Are you prepared to answer Adrian’s question? What is the sustainable alternative to tourism?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Same answer that Adrian would give to ‘Juicy Lucy’ about a sustainable alternative to working on Bush Hill at nights…

    Have some pride in yourself as a human being of worth
    Get a damn job using your best talents and mind
    Learn to live within your productive means.

    If, in the process of living your life, others choose to visit to enjoy the ambience of your home / family / company .. then fine, …great even….

    …but standing in the dark, half naked, and begging for fares…..??!!??

    Not stinking Bushie.

    Like

  • @ Bushie,

    While Juicy Lucy is looking for a ” job using her best talents and mind “,

    She could make sure she is clean, smell good , look good and dress better.

    ” Following a record-beating year in tourism to Barbados in 2015, the sun-kissed Eastern Caribbean island welcomed more tourists than ever before last year.

    Tourist Arrivals Up from 592,000 to 610,000. …
    Arrivals Expected to Rise Again in 2017″

    Like

  • What are you saying Hants…?
    a lotta strangers ‘coming’ here?
    LOL

    The whole point of human life is about continuous self-development….
    …of mind, of talents, of maturity, of intellect, of statue, of love…. and also of material wealth..

    The selling off of personal assets to sustain BASIC life, in the absence of any CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, is the diametrical OPPOSITE of successful living…
    It is the VERY DEFINITION of failure.

    People who sell their bodies …(or their national assets)
    are in the advanced process of DE-humanisation…

    Like

  • Bushie

    The dominionist streak in you is showing.

    This planet does not have the unlimited resources for ‘material wealth’ to be a point of human life.

    Like

  • All this long hulabaloo about Sandals. I am yet to get this questioned andwered:
    How come after 60 years or more , we
    have not produced a Sandals or even
    something close?
    Until that question is honestly answered
    tears over Sandals’ concessions are useless.

    Like

  • How come after 60 years or more , we
    have not produced a Sandals or even
    something close?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Because non-black hoteliers generally tend to look to associate with big-name North American and European brands so that they can import management and high level staff rather than employ Bajans at such levels… Money Brain understands this – even though he pretends not to…

    Black hoteliers ALWAYS find themselves to be targets of BLACK politicians – who either bleed them into poverty via bribes, ..or squeeze them into poverty out of spite. Same as they do to other black businesses such as the PSV, Recyclers and professionals.

    Almond could EASILY have been a high quality brand comparable to Sandals – had a MERITOCRATIC approach been taken to its management and development.

    Like

  • @ Bush Tea
    The same game the traditional business
    Sector played in agriculture they played with
    tourism. Just retail with no innovation or creativity.
    Your comment about the Black managerial class
    cannot be disputed.

    Like

  • Almond could EASILY have been a high quality brand comparable to Sandals – had a MERITOCRATIC approach been taken to its management and development.

    Thus speaks someone who, no doubt, has never stayed at Almond nor had any interaction with them on behalf of friends staying as guests.

    Like

  • Following T&T news:

    Read this for a concise and informative description of the SANDALS debacle and what we can do now, and that is not falling for the SANDALS’ hardball tactics, they damn good at that – ask other Caribbean govts, but pushing back against SANDALS. How to do that? Start by following A Wilson’s suggestion: create the project document or upgrade it if you already have one, put out it out in the international media and mail to potential global resort companies, and let’s do this from the beginning, in an open * transparent manner.  Follow Jamaica, St Lucia, Mexico, Dominican Republic etc: they don’t give away the store to people who want to build a hotel/resort; they negotiate, invite others, and do it as it should be done. But, first, they create a tourism product, a brand, improve the infrastructure etc.

    And, PM, you are in danger of out-Trumping Trump with talk about "the welcome Sandals getting here " etc. Come on, man, you not so naive and taking Sandals’ bait, are you? This is like Trump saying Putin "feels insulted" when people talk about Russia interfering the the US election and colluding with Manifort, Kushner, and the Trump family. SANDALS’ is not a newcomer to negotiations, they know what to expect, they know people will ask questions and be sceptical of them etc etc. Don’t cry for Sandals, or else they will take you for all you have and some…..you can also play the game, play you not interested, have your people say we are looking at other hotel investors but we are always open to discussing other projects with Sandals, invite CEOs of the world’s largest resorts companies to T&T, have your diplomats abroad approach potential hotel investors and let the media know this, all media in the Caribbean (let your diplomats abroad start doing some wuk instead of clinking cocktail glasses, no one hears of any investment meetings etc from these diplomats, you sure they at work in those countries? how come they haven’t even planned one meeting for you to address potential investors, like when you go for health checkup you could spend an extra day to address the Houston or LA Chamber of Commerce?), get info from other islands on how Sandals negotiates and their tactics and be prepared, doh play you too soft and you so badly need Sandals that you can give away more, you guys behaving as anxious maidens on their first date, these relationship modus operandi can be complex and requires skill, patience, playing it out, etc etc etc.

    Is Sandals’ setback really an opening?*

    Like

  • Tourism the only lifeline?

    A rubbish, myopic view….the largest fastest growing companies in the world today share one thing. They are directly connected or thoroughly embrace the new digital economy (not currencies). That is the future of Barbados why? It is a knowledge based economy that is location independent and this is where we can mobilise resources to train our citizens to launch and operate global businesses.

    Tourism is adjunct

    Like

  • This self-serving nonsense about tourism should be rejected. Where are the tourists going to come from? It is not worthy of serious economic discussion.

    Like

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