The peak winter season is over.
Ahead of us are eight long softer summer months and every creative fibre throughout our national body should now go into hyperdrive to help maximize our tourism potential until December.
We need our food and wine distributors to become more ardent and see how better they can work with our hospitality industry to jointly enhance value and variety on offer. Perhaps this could be done in concert with the many countries we enjoy diplomatic relations with like Canada, the European Union, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, who all produce wine and may have a desirable product that we can include in our culinary offerings. I know some time ago the Argentinian Ambassador was proactive in this area, highlighting their incredible regional wine producing areas.
Our banks, already knowing there are vast amounts of untapped savings out there acquiring little or no interest, have to play a much greater part with incentives like cash back on credit and debit card tourism purchases. Monthly tourism prizes to stimulate awareness and demand would be an obvious first step.
Both sectors already have a ready-made co-operative marketing tool called re-DISCOVER (www.re-discover.com) where over 50 restaurant partners have been working together with a common objective for years.
The hotel association should also step up and as early as the beginning of next month offer a comprehensive and ongoing StayCation programme which will tempt many locals and long stay visitors to sample our myriad of available accommodation options.
One statistic stays in my mind and that is 67 per cent. Across all our registered accommodation (villas and hotels) this figure of an average 67 occupancy per annual is widely quoted. Frankly, I don’t care if this ‘average’ is typical of the Caribbean region as a whole. This is Barbados and we can do better.
What could possibly justify having up 15,000 empty villa and hotels rooms empty on any given night with a vacant capacity of at least 30,000 visitor arrivals? There must be something we can do to fill those rooms, that we are currently not doing. Personal, my main concentration would be to devise a comprehensive plan to take that 67 up to 77 per cent annual occupancy. I just wonder, if anyone has actually sat down and calculated the financial benefit that would bring to the country?
While we target travel writers and journalists in the hard core departure cities, is there further opportunity to invite those who work on regional and local publications in the environs of our connecting cities? To me it’s a no-brainer, an empty room matched with a responsive travel publication! If a well written destination article can attract just ten first time visitors to Barbados, isn’t it cost-effective?
Of course, there are many more areas we can look at, or take a second look, including enticing frequent flyers, who already have the means to reach us without the perceived hurdle of geographic distance or high air fares.
As the private sector takes greater charge of our tourism destiny, perhaps there has never been a better time, in modern days, to exert that influence.
We returned to Barbados in January, our first stay during the peak winter season. Normally we stay in the. Summer or Fall when hotel rates are lower.
We rented accommodation but took some meals and drinks in local hotels. I was surprised that occupancy was not as high as I expected and it was really fairly quiet with a generally older clientele.
It begs the question – Why not lower the rates to more reasonable levels; fill your spare capacity and get the income from food and drink instead of holding out for cash rich guests who are fine with the sky high room rates that this time of year has become synonymous with.
First, only the mature can afford to take long-haul holidays. Millennials have enough trouble trying to afford their rent. More importantly, the occupancy problem is not new. In 2007, the Cricket World Cup, occupancy was only 70 per cent.
Given this, government now has a policy of a hotel corridor from Hastings to Black Rock, 12 hotels in all; then there is the Chinese refurbishment of Sam Lord’s, the time-share developments at Crane, etc. Clearly government has not thought through its plans, which is why I think its BERT policy will fail.
What the article clearly shows is that modern marketing techniques are not being utilized. 15,000 empty rooms/ beds… that says it all !
Don’t worry we’ve been only in the business 60 + years.
I agree with you with you that “the article clearly shows is that modern marketing techniques are not being utilized” and “15,000 empty rooms/beds……. says it all!”
St. Barthélemy is an expensive Caribbean destination, but still attracts several visitors.
What else does Barbados have to offer, to attract tourists, other than “sea water and sand,” which can be enjoyed in other cheaper destinations? We were concentrating on golf courses, but as the saying goes, golf seems to have “died a natural death.”
Officials seem not to realize tourism has gone pass the days of plaiting hair and selling black coral or “T” shirts on the beach.
Although “the occupancy problem is not new,” when one considers the number of unfortunate circumstances, the 2007 World Cup may not be the ideal example for referring to occupancy levels.
The expectations of regional governments were perhaps too high and they over anticipated the number of visitors and cricket fans coming to the region, especially from the UK, India and Pakistan.
Barbados’ tourism officials, for example, anticipated India would have advanced to the “Super Eights.” Unfortunately, India did not advance to that stage of the competition and late cancellations came from Indians intending to travel for those matches. It was reported that of the 5,500 Indians cricket fans expected, only approximately 800 came.
Additionally. teams such as Bangladesh and Ireland, which are not generally known “crowd pullers,” advanced to the “Super Eights.” It was also reported that, for the England versus Bangladesh match, 26,000 ticket were allegedly sold, but those in attendance numbered 10,423.
SUGGESTED SOLUTION FOR ALL OF OUR WOES, ECONOMIC AND OTHERWISE
BRING IN HAL ASSTIN WITH HIS PORCINE FACIES TO SPEW PORCINE FAECAL ADVICE!
It is sad to witness publicly a worsening case of alcoholism and mental decline.
It is puzzling we permit 75% of the restaurants, supermarkets and general retail to close on a public holiday in a tourist destination. The funny bit is that we have a few supermarkets clamoring to open during a national shutdown.
The poorest countries seems to have the most holidays
While the richest never seems to close their doors
Yet these poor countries always bitching and begging for help
Bout time they help themselves
This issue is causing some unrest in Anguilla