Adrian Loveridge Column – Year of Opportunity

As we prepare to enter another new year, Christmas and the festive season gives way to traditionally the busiest holiday booking period in many of our major markets, notably the United Kingdom.

I would like to designate 2020 as the Year of Opportunity. With a new head of our national tourism marketing agency shortly in place, perhaps we could use these next months to better evaluate where we are missing potential opportunities, which can be turned into increased arrival numbers, extended length of stay and higher individual visitor spend.

Yes! There are those who believe that the majority of our guests stay in high end hotels and villas, but the reality is quite different.

Despite, the introduction of the last few years of over 550 rooms across two properties, who now boast annual occupancy levels of 90 plus percent, our total registered hotel room stock, struggles to achieve a yearly average occupancy of 67 per cent.

This is even more concerning, as recently released figures indicated that we are claiming record numbers of long stay visitors.

So the only logical conclusion is that there has been an even higher growth in the alternative lodging sector than either anticipated, or in fact, planned for in terms of marketing and licensing. It follows that this market is far more likely to look for travel bargains to reach us and they are out there if a little research is undertaken.

As an example, the current Virgin Atlantic sale is offering return flights from Gatwick to Barbados for as low at GB Pounds 407 including all taxes, even in peak months like March. Quite remarkable, in itself, when you consider the taxes and add-ons on that fare alone are GB Pounds 171.02 per ticket.

Book through bonus benefit websites, like TopCashBack, and you can get another GB Pounds 7.50 off.  I was also able to book an overnight room at a large chain hotel within sight of Gatwick Airport at just over GB Pounds 18, for certain nights of the week.

And for the more adventurous, who maybe want to break their journey in the United States for shopping or sightseeing, can fly one way with Norwegian Airlines from Gatwick to Miami at GB Pounds 160 and then use miles on American Airlines for as little as 8,000 miles and taxes of US$7.10 from Miami to Barbados. Obviously these are the lowest fares available with certain luggage and other restrictions, but as they say ‘the price is right’.

While Barbados is continually perceived as a high cost destination, it is only in our interests to ensure that every potential visitor has the greatest choice of reaching us at the most affordable fares.

While we extract some of the highest airport departure taxes payable within the Caribbean, the real benefit is gleaned to Government from the taxes, VAT and levies paid on accommodation, car rental, dining experiences, shopping, attractions and activities and surely that should be where we concentrate our efforts on getting them here?

4 comments

  • The replacement for Billy Griffith has been named?

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  • Barbados Named Top Place To Travel In 2020

    Article by
    Asminnie Moonsammy

    Published on
    December 30, 2019

    Travel + Leisure magazine has released its list of 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020, and Barbados has made the cut.

    The annual anticipated list of cities and countries put Barbados in the company of top tourism destinations such as Hawaii, Dubai and France.

    A world leader in travel and tourism, the magazine touted Barbados as “largely famous for its powder-white beaches, British-colonial roots, manifold rum shops, and native daughter Rihanna”.

    In compiling the list, Travel + Leisure said: “For definitive answers on the best vacation spots of the moment, we hit the books scouring tourism statistics; scoping out major events; charting new flight routes and logging hotel debuts.”

    Perhaps the most unique highlight of the destination in the article was next year’s national initiative, We Gatherin’.

    “The country’s first female Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley sent out a rallying cry for anyone with Bajan roots to return to the island in 2020 to partake in a year-long calendar of events celebrating Bajan heritage and culture,” the article cited.

    The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) is working to promote We Gatherin’ in its top source markets, especially engaging the diaspora to get involved in the 52 weeks of events and investment opportunities which kick off on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, with a free picnic at River Bay, St. Lucy. For more on We Gatherin’ visit https://www.wegatherinbarbados.com

    The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) is working to promote We Gatherin’ in its top source markets, especially engaging the diaspora to get involved in the 52 weeks of events and investment opportunities which kick off on Wednesday, January 1, 2020, with a free picnic at River Bay, St. Lucy.

    For more on We Gatherin’ visit https://www.wegatherinbarbados.com (BGIS)

    Like

  • Like tourism officials in Barbados, Adrian focuses obsessively on marketing, airlift, and airfares.

    Which are only half of what needs to be done. If as much attention was paid to (1) improving the quality of tourism services and (2) increasing the efficiency of hotel operations, there would be a greater financial return for our marketing effort.

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  • @Ewart A

    Agree with you….you can bring as many tourists as you like but if we don’t continuously improve the service offerings and options on the island they will not spend more and worse yet won’t return.

    Not much being done in that space. Haven’t we realized by now there is sun, sea and sand in many other places. What are we doing to make Bim unique and special and charge accordingly? Not much…it’s crickets there.

    But we gatherin’….nice sound bites that amount to nothing in the real world of international competition

    Sigh

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