The Adrian Loveridge Column – Grantley Adams International Airport ‘Close’ to Getting it Right

Returning on a completely full British Airways flight from Gatwick last Monday it was a joy to find the Automated Passport Kiosks finally fully functional and I was able to clear Immigration within a couple of minutes.

Several staff – which we are left to assume – are placed there by one of the Barbados Tourism entities, were very visible and seemingly channelling arriving passengers into the fastest processing options.

The next obstacle is baggage claim, which on this occasion took just over an hour to retrieve a single suitcase after deplaning. With horrendously long lines for the Nothing to Declare, option, I decided to join the shorter queue, Goods to Declare. A very affable young female Customs Officer asked me a few questions and then waived me through. Just before exiting the arrivals area a Royal Barbados Police Officer (also a female) asked if I needed a taxi and personally led me to the Taxi Despatcher desk.

If we could just reduce the baggage reclaim time and speed up the customs procedure, then we have it almost right and I applaud all those who have been working on the improvements.

We should never lose track that many of our visitors, especially those arriving on transatlantic routes, have travelled, in many cases up to two hours to their departing airport, a minimum check-in of at least two hours, then sitting on plane for nine hours before finally arriving at their chosen destinations.

On my particular flight (at least in economy) there was a fascinating mixture, made up of families with small children, younger and older couples, together with second home owners.

During my short taxi journey home, I asked the driver if he had been busy and he replied that he had been at the airport since 5am and that my ride was his first fare at just after 4pm. This is perhaps another area that needs some in-depth investigation. Of course, every legitimate taxi operator pays an annual fee for the right to ply out of Grantley Adams International Airport. With the talk, of in some way privatizing, some aspects of the facility, pressure will increase to justify the hike of fees to users under any private control.

From my observation, the long standing problem of the so called ‘snatchers’ still persists. As the name implies, unlicensed individuals who prey on first time or unsuspecting visitors, then drive them off in vehicles, which may, or may not carry sufficient insurance.

I cannot imagine the media consequences if one of these vehicles are involved in a serious accident or crash and found to be unlicensed.

From general feedback and following social media sites like TripAdvisor Barbados Forum, many loyal Barbados returnees have albeit reluctantly accepted the massive increase in taxes on flights, accommodation and ancillary services. But, and it’s a big BUT, transferring the cost of marketing the destination from Government directly to visitors, therefore saving the administration a reported BDS$100 million annually will have to be justified in clear and transparent improvements.

For instance, are we any closer to ensuring every accommodation provider is registered, carries all the basic health, safety and insurance requirements and is finally contributing taxes to promote Barbados?

22 thoughts on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – Grantley Adams International Airport ‘Close’ to Getting it Right

  1. We never seem to hear those who presume that this here island must eternally be some service or servitude station, meeting all possible visitor needs, but never is there to be a direct benefit to the people whose lives must revolve around a nebulous, even irrational concept of providing higher and higher levels of service while disconnected from most of the revenue streams. In short, when can the average Bajan receive a cheque, a service quality dividend. And dont tell us shiite bout forex and other macroeconomic bs

  2. Transferring the $100 million cost of marketing the island to the visitors is a BIG mistake. Get the hotels to pay for this. Give hotel chains like Sandals, etc concessions so that they will market the island and the government will not have to. I understand that every 30 seconds somewhere in the world there is an advert for Sandals being aired. Barbados can never pay for that kind of publicity. Giving hotel chains concessions to come to Barbados does not cost the island anything as without the concessions they are not coming anyway.

    • Is the concern about concessions or the level offered.

      If the focus is to generate foreign exchange to what extent does a Sandals model do the job based on concessions offered. Is the all inclusive model a good fit for Barbados?

  3. Our claim has to do with the age old deployment of the Bajan population as a service element to tourists and central to the tourism product.

    Just came back from Cancun. They get about 26 million tourists per years and there seems to be no social requirement or demands for ordinary ‘locals’ to be constantly increase their SERVQUAL levels.

    Certainly, NYC receives 61 million per year and in that city there is nobody to tell you where is north or south. Not a friendly face to ask a question.

    And long waits at JFK are not unknown

    This industry owes Bajans, personally, their back pay.

  4. Must agree with Pacha here.

    There is always a strongly patronizing tone towards Bajans coming from the tourism industry players, and weirdly, govt especially.

    Taken to an absurd conclusion, wouldn’t slaves make the best service providers?

  5. And David

    We have to connect these failures in the industry to the growing crimes in the country. We see correlation of failures.

  6. If the focus is to generate foreign exchange to what extent does a Sandals model do the job based on concessions offered. Is the all inclusive model a good fit for Barbados?
    Remind me again, how many Bajans get paid every week from the proceeds of Sandals operations.
    I do believe the funds to pay these people are generated in foreign currency.

    • The question was about generating forex and if the trade off for a few hundred relatively low level jobs makes it a worthwhile strategy.

  7. We love to find a negative?
    The author, who at times can be very critical, is applauding the GAIA for IMPROVING. Those of us who travel by air, know the time from landing to exiting the terminal has at times been upward of 3 hours.
    Barbados cannot control how long it takes to fly from any foreign destination, or the weather conditions in those departing ports, but it can speed up the process from exiting an aircraft to leaving the terminal.

    @Pacha…did you ask those folks in Cancun what they get paid? The new, yet to be ratified NA Free Trade agreement, stumbled in auto, because Mexican workers wages were ONE TENTH of the what the USA and Canada paid.And those Mexican workers HAD a union. Imagine what the non-union hotel workers get? Or go to Cuba, where the minority foreign hotel operator pays the Cuban government a market rate of between $12-25US/hr, while the Cuban government pays those same people $60/month.

    If we do not like the jobs Tourism provides, and with all our education, the simple answer is get off our collective asses and invest in opportunities which will provide a better wage.

    • That is the point Pacha is making? Tourism will not do it for us for much longer. We need to strategize how to shift to other sectors .

  8. NO

    No! But have you heard about wage slavery? Or the historical patterns of capital formation in Barbados?

    Regardless of the relative wages, we can state clearly that the cost of living in Cancun is vastly less than Barbados.

    Tell us then, Barbados has a union too. What use has that been to Bajan workers?

    Show us the apples which you would want to compare to oranges!

    You seem stuck on wages. Our orientation is about workers owning everywhere they wuk! That philosophy is not, like yours, built on a modern form os slavery.

  9. So Pacha, the hotel employees in Cancun own the properties? I know a lot of foreigners, and a few locals, own bars and restaurants, but I don’t know who owns the accommodation properties.

    there is a major difference between switching sectors and switching models. The concept of “workers owning everywhere they wuk”, could apply to many facets of Tourism if they were so constructed to operate that way.

    • @NO

      Agree to the general point. However, tourism is the key sector which informs the point there should be maximum worker participation in the money pot. Also it conflates with the point it is a sector with diminishing future.

      Where do we go from here?

  10. David

    Thank you very, very much.

    Northern knows better, or should.

    What makes your statement worse is that the industry relies on all Barbadians, not only workers within, our government, the public purse, to keep itself going but nobody, including Northern, wants to do a proper, sober assessment, or cost-benefit analysis.

  11. Nuff rain mussee falling.

    ” Worthing Beach will be closed to the public from today, April 9, at 6 p.m., until noon, Wednesday, April 10.”

  12. Alright den. You focus on getting access to the Tourism money pot, and I will focus on other opportunities.
    Tourism isn’t dead yet. A wide cross section of Barbadians make a living from services and products related to Tourism. Maybe every Barbadian deserves a cheque for their contribution to the Industry, and every related service or product has a charge, to be distributed annually to all Barbadians.

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