The Adrian Loveridge Column – Cleanup the Country, it is XMAS for Chrissakes!
It’s that time of the year when I hope those not directly involved in the tourism sector spare a tiny thought for the many who will be working over the Christmas period and to various degrees, sacrificing quality time with their families.
From our own perspective, this year will be the first family Christmas that I hope to experience in over 40 years. Of course it goes with the territory and if you choose tourism as a career then it is naturally expected that you will be working during what the majority consider ‘unsocial times’.
For our cherished guests it is a very special time where almost always they are paying premium rates for both accommodation and flights.
If there is any hope they may return year and year, we have to justify why they are now paying higher prices than ever before.
While I fully understand the current Government’s financial challenges, they also fully benefit from the increase in windfall taxes at this time and concerted measures have to be taken in an attempt to keep the island clean and tidy.
Once again, our area has not had a garbage collection for over two weeks. The stench of the rubbish, strong winds blowing it all over the place, breeding flies and constant scavenging by stray dogs and fowl, does nothing to impress our guests or encourage them to return to the destination.
Many of our visitors closely follow the social media and are aware of the increased operating costs to businesses, compounded by the second departure tax, accommodation room and ancillary tourism tax that they now have to absorb in their increased holiday costs.
Perhaps many readers will vocally argue, give the new Government a chance. Rightly so but there are very rarely second chances in the tourism industry.
You cannot make comparisons with goods and many other services. If a car or refrigerator breaks down you can take it back to the dealer or get it fixed. First and last impressions often have a critical bearing on the choice of the next holiday and we should never lose track of that fact.
While the private sector is pivotal in the overall visitor experience, it cannot directly intervene in the continuing niggling problems, so graphically highlighted in social media sites like Barbados Trip Advisor Forum. These include a shortage of manned immigration desks, exacerbated by the long delayed Automated Passport Control Kiosks becoming operational. The time it frequently takes to reclaim hold baggage or as one Canadian visitor commented recently, it took 1 hour and 40 minutes to retrieve his luggage.
Yes, we fully understand the possible illegal drug implications, but surely a few more fully trained customer officers and dogs are not beyond the administration’s ability to implement, especially as our arrivals are paying for it in vastly increased taxation. And finally, either we have a customs green channel or we don’t.
None of these are new problems. They have been there for years. Let’s finally deal with them.