The Adrian Loveridge Column – Iconic Destination or What!
I really hate opening any column with a negative, but after tourism leading the way for so many years, one is left to wonder why we cannot even seem to get the simple things right?
Returning into Grantley Adams International Airport from London recently off a British Airways flight that was not quite full, at around the same time a Condor plane had landed.
So, what could have been 400 to 500 people in the line attempting to clear immigration, having already been travelling between 8 and 10 flying hours, plus probably another two hours to reach the departing airport and at least two more hours for check-in prior to boarding. The first thing our visitors notice on arrival is the idle shiny 14 Automated Passport Control Kiosks. Still not in use, despite media reports as early as 8th May 2017 (nearly two years ago) stating they will soon be ‘operational’ and the very many assurances proffered since then.
At the time of ordering this clearly expensive equipment, surely all considerations for implementation were discussed and agreed prior to spending vast amounts of taxpayer’s monies?
What remains incredulous is that our national marketing agency driven by private sector interest has been spectacularly successful in attracting huge amounts of additional airlift into Barbados.
In the interim, perhaps some humanitarian measures could be put place, like having one or more dedicated immigration desks to process those with small children and infants.
Having scores of clearly tired and distressed vocal youngsters and their exhausted parents standing for arbitrary periods among a huge mass of people is not the ideal start to a much awaited holiday.
With the imposition of all the additional taxes that our cherish visitors end up paying, if we are going to continue this often muted reputation as an iconic destination, they have to be absolutely convinced that at least a substantial proportion of this windfall Government revenue is spent to improve and upgrade the status quo.
Of course, the problem does not just end at Immigration.
The next challenge and delay is at baggage claim and then Customs. In my recent experience, it is now quicker to join the red channel, even if you have nothing to declare, rather than swell the extended queue of what most would reasonably consider, a faster option of the green channel.
The concept of having a taxi dispatcher to help control excessive fares and rogue (often referred to as snatchers) operators is a laudable one. But our peak winter periods with literally thousands of passengers arriving during an hour, one dispatcher simply cannot cope.
As I queued in yet another line to secure a taxi the short distance to Inch Marlow, a German family with two very small children, argued the rate for their journey with the solitary dispatcher, after having researched the correct fare on the internet.
These niggling impediments help destroy all the extensive and costly marketing and promotional efforts.
And however well our guests are treated on-island, by all those employed in the industry, these first impressions have a profound effect of whether or not we are chosen as a return destination of choice.