I wonder if our tourism policymakers and planners are any closer to having an accurate idea of exactly what rentable accommodation we have on Barbados?
Almost daily, we received requests for re-DISCOVER lunch vouchers from addresses and particular named properties, that even after four decades being involved in the local tourism industry, I have never heard of.
To me, it is very difficult to effectively promote a product, when you have no accurate idea of, in this particular case, what our overall accommodation offerings is comprised.
A similar scenario would be rather like operating a supermarket, but you are unaware of which goods are displayed on the shelves.
Discussion has taken place for years over regulating and licensing our various lodging choices, but we do not seem to be any closer into making this a practical reality.
It also must be a potential or actual minefield for our visitors, especially those perhaps looking for improved or perceived better value-for-money than offered, by what have previous be deemed our more traditional accommodation offerings.
As a matter of course, any voucher request received that doesn’t ring a bell, in terms of location and/or name, we automatically undertake a GOOGLE search and most times it is an eye-opener to see the enormous range of accommodation types and prices available.
A recent example was a three bedroom, three bathroom villa located just a five minute walk from a west coast beach at GB Pounds 121 a night or around BDS$ 320. A family of six or friends, sharing the cost would be paying just GB Pounds 20 per person nightly or around BDS$ 50.
Where comparing this with one of our source markets, it would in most cases, cost less that you would pay pro-rata shared room stay in a budget chain of hotels in England, like Travelodge or Premier Inns.
Are we, as a destination, missing an opportunity here, which could help drive additional airlift by ensuring we are fully aware of all available options?
Changing the subject, in this publication last week, the current chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), Martin Ince, once again called for Government to re-instate the enhanced tax concessions previously granted to corporate tax paying members of that organisation to underpin tourism initiatives. I would like to fully endorse his repeated call, as from personal experience over decades trying to grow fledgling concepts into meaningful sustainable marketing successes, their contribution and support has often made the workable difference.
While it is abundantly obvious that the administration is under considerable and mounting fiscal pressure, in this particular case the rather crude saying ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’ comes to mind.
Just look at the many projects that the TDC have supported over the years. Very few have failed, or not at least generated the investment made.
That certainly is not an honest claim which could be made by the public sector, regardless of which party was in power.
As I have repeated before, tourism is currently the only game in town and as we enter the absolutely critical winter season, we surely should be fine- tuning the sector that has any credible hope of delivering us from what otherwise could be economic chaos.