The Adrian Loveridge Column – “Arise Sir KA or Dame DA”
With the first column of a new year, it would not feel quite right, to exclude a wish list.
Until we invent some other means to transport visitors to our shores, then first on the list would have to be airlift.
I call again to step up discussions with Norwegian Air and Jetblue to help create a nonstop or one stop service between Scandinavia and Barbados. The two airlines already code-share and with a little fine tuning, could provide seamless connections through Fort Lauderdale initially, before a nonstop route became viable. If this is not feasible, then secondly we should work with one of our sister islands to share the risks and benefits to make a nonstop flight a reality.
Scandinavia in the past has been a good market for us and the relatively high prices in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark makes the Caribbean appear better value-for-money in a highly competitive global industry. As a bonus we could also capture traffic from the economically emerging Baltic States market.
While other US cities have been mentioned in relation to new routes, I remain convinced that Atlanta- despite our various forays in and out of- what is still technically the worlds’ busiest airport holds the greatest connecting city potential for us. After ten years of US visitor arrival stagnation, with new thinking and drive, we now benefit from the largest growth from any of our traditional and main markets out of the United States.
Let us not hold this back!
As Jetblue builds a major presence out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, it is the natural partner – having previously supported us – and the wider Caribbean. We recently welcomed additional airlift out of the UK with two new season services from Gatwick and Heathrow, but with all the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, we need a direct service from Scotland.
Reduced and eventually eliminate APD (advance passenger duty) and the fact that the Scots proportionally take more holidays than the English, are two pressing reasons. Conversely, the deterrent additional cost of traveling through London or Manchester makes a nonstop service an imperative.
We also have to make it easier and less expensive for our UK visitors to get to and from British airports. A simple suggestion is to partner with one or more of the train operating and marketing companies, like National Rail, to offer a Barbados branded discount card, with ‘us’ partially offsetting the annual fee and specifically targeted towards a senior and/or family demographic.
It could of course be a private/public sector initiative with the card also giving tangible and monitored benefits from other on-island tourism services. Every time the card was used it would act as a very visible reminder of the visitor’s past holiday in Barbados, at very little cost to us as a destination.
While my wish list is virtually endless, with this an election year, I would make a repeated plea, whoever gains office, that someone within the industry is finally granted the country’s highest independence honour.
While Sir Paul Altman was honoured by the Queen, let our politicians finally recognise that there are many people in this land, who have worked tirelessly for their entire life to advance this sector and it is far overdue that their efforts are publicly acknowledged.
Arise Sir KA or Dame DA.