The Adrian Loveridge Column – Wooing Long Stay Visitors

Adrian Loveridge

We now have over 36 weeks or more than 250 days to maximise our visitor arrivals numbers before normal climatic global conditions return with the start of a new winter season.

Frankly our summers have always been a challenge and whatever spin we put on this long running scenario, there are little more than band-aid solutions available, if we are going to be totally honest.

Of course events can play a critical role in helping maintain the numbers, but there is so much more we have to be doing in the background, to compete in an increasingly diverse and attractive choice of affordable destinations.

One of the areas I believe needs a great more attention is our long stay repeat visitor market, especially those with second homes on island.

How can ‘we’ encourage them to spend more time on Barbados?

Probably one of the biggest deterrents, are the relatively high cost of airfares, but there are still enormous opportunities here, if we look further. Many of our second home owners are retired or approaching retirement. They do not necessarily have to travel on peak travel days like Saturdays or Sundays, but are able to fly on traditionally quieter Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

With a little research and creativity there are also relative ‘bargains’ out there which with some flexibility can help with the overall cost.

An example is using American Airlines AAdvantage miles one way from Barbados to Heathrow via Miami where selective journey dates are available for 32,500 miles and US$52.91 in taxes and add-ons.

Of course you still have to a purchase flight in the opposite direction but with no VAT on British purchased flights, that’s a saving of at least 17.5 per cent when compared with tickets bought in Barbados.

And there are several options including Norwegian Air from Gatwick via Fort Lauderdale with JetBlue with fares from GB Pounds 233.

When the current Government introduced the 2 per cent levy on locally issued credit card purchases to supposedly dampen overseas purchases requiring foreign exchange usage, perhaps like many, I personally thought, it was highly unlikely to curb demand.

As we import the vast majority of consumed products, often costing twice the price of the identical item from where it is shipped, that concept was never going to work, quite simply. To combat this, my guess is the vast majority of people, including myself, switched to alternative methods of payment like American Express, Discover and Diners Card where this opportunist tax does not apply.

Using miles to reduce the cash cost of flights also allows both locals and visitors to break the journey, especially via Miami, but it could also apply to Toronto or Montreal as well. The return of a direct American Airlines New York service and possibly other gateways would greatly increase other options.

Even taking into account an overnight hotel in one or both directions, the savings over Barbadian prices for personal consumables would more than make up for this expense.

Over the years, sadly the use of miles to drive additional volume has not been given the attention I believe it deserves. And I can only think the reason behind this is that our tourism policymakers and planners do not even think of the potential, as they probably travel on full fare tickets.

8 comments

  • Who pays full fare these days? When I worked for the state government we had to choose the lowest cost method of travel even if it means inconveniencing you the employee.

    To your point of using air miles, even retirees like myself want direct flights but as you know, depending on where you are flying from it is nesrly impossible to do so especially when using air miles.

    I just recently purchased a one way ticket on Jetbluefrom JFK to BGI for $7.10 USD plus 8600 miles, but had the hardest time finding a return flight back without breaking the bank.
    I have airmiles on both American and Delta and these airlines make it near impossible to use the air miles. So how do you fix this when cost cutting travels expect more for less?

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  • Travels should be travelers.

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  • Not knocking the idea but the other point about air miles is that the airline restricts number of seats to air miles passenger as well as double miles required at periods of the year. It can be a complementary strategy.

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  • get rid of those travel advisories sooner than later

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  • I agree with the previous posters, the use of airline miles is restrictive especially at peak periods. In addition, the post by lawson is point on.The travel advisories have to removed, of course correcting the situation is the responsibility of the government. It is the same government that caused the advisories in the first place!
    Another issue facing long-term visitors is out of country health insurance. The cost becomes prohibitive after a couple of weeks depending on your age. Personally, it is a factor that determines my length of stay regardless of the season.Hopefully, Adrian, your post may draw some suggestions that may be adopted by the powers that be to assist the tourism industry and in turn the economy of Barbados.

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  • The government via their tourism mouthpieces will rebuff your position and say the occupancy level is close to 100%.

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  • Today on the Sunday talk show the former Governor made the statement that there is nothing wrong with our tourist product, it is performing well. Besides former hotelier Timothy Boyce who called to jack him up about it, the comment went unchallenged. It is a mindset held by our leadership that needs to be unpacked.

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