As we end another challenging year and enter a new hopefully more positive one, it would appear disingenuous not to have a 2019 wish list or perhaps more realistically a dream list. So just for the sake of it, here is mine (not necessarily in order of implementation).
- I remain firmly convinced that there is a great deal more to be achieved if we learn to work better together, sharing ideas and costs.Many years ago we convinced the three largest villa rental agencies to jointly prepare suitable artwork including each of them in a single page ‘ad’ that was then placed in targeted travel magazines. The reach was greater for the cost than if they had attempted it individually and gave them much greater coverage.
- Over the years I admit to have dismally failed to persuade the policymakers to implement an effective frequent flyer offering.This, despite an enormous growth in loyalty programmes which has been largely driven by the vastly increased number of ways to amass miles, often without even having to fly anywhere.
- For most of our visitors, their holiday or vacation does not start at the airport or destination. It begins at home. For our more elderly clientele, getting to and from their home airport can present fundamental challenges with associated concerns and perceived risks. I would like to see us work with other travel partners like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains to make airport access simpler, less stressful and less expensive. Rather like the British Rail Card concept, which for a small annual fee reduces the cost of travel on trains by as much as 30 per cent.
- To identify and spend next year restoring and upgrading ten historical buildings in Bridgetown and Speightstown with the support of volunteers and corporate Barbados. Whether these finally become craft shops, art galleries, cafés or other useful revenue generating premises could be decided along the way.
- To reduce our dependence on imported food stuffs by using the vast acreage of idle agricultural land to facilitate co-operative growers and provide the necessary security and environment to deter praedial larceny.
- It would not be a credible wish list without mentioning airlift. Again, for years I have been trying to persuade the low cost carrier, Norwegian Air to service Barbados. Ideally, with non stop services from the Scandinavian airports they currently fly to, notably Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo. They operate a large fleet of B787 Dreamliner’s, perhaps the most ideal aircraft for the distance and timings. Even if we could only pick one of these airports, it makes economic sense to initially share a triangle route with our neighbour, St. Lucia.
Secondly, it is only a matter of time before an Icelandic airline flies into the Caribbean. With the newest aircraft types the capacity risk is dramatically reduced with smaller planes able to fly further. Iceland’s strategic geographical location and its proven ability to punch way above its weight, makes it an ideal partner.