Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism Wish-list
What would the first column of a new year be without including a tourism wish list?
And not necessarily in any order of priority or potential realization!
As Air Canada prepares to roll-out publicly, its first new re-branded Airbus A220-300 airplane, number one of 45 on order, exciting opportunities present themselves, especially within the Caribbean.
This ‘incredibly fuel efficient’ aircraft is capable of flying nonstop some 3,200 nautical miles (5,020k), but with a capacity of just 137 passengers in two classes, boasting the widest economy seats in their entire fleet.
There isn’t anybody on this planet that can ever convince me that we are unable to fill at least one of these planes, once a week with a direct service from Ottawa.
In fact, if historical arrival data is studied, my guess is that we already welcome around 100 plus people travelling from Ottawa weekly to Barbados, at least during the winter, but currently being compelled to connect through Toronto or Montreal.
We should also look carefully at the demographics of these visitors from the Canadian capital and evaluate the difference a direct flight could make. While, at the same time, research other airlines that already have, or plan to add the A220 to their fleet,
Chicago, Minneapolis and Winnipeg should be considered with a flying time of around 6 hours one-way, or utilization of 12-14 hours in any given 24 hours, which is an important economic consideration for a small plane. Enticing additional visitors from areas with extended winters is critical, if we wish to improve our annual average accommodation occupancy.
Staying with airlift, we desperately need to refocus on the Scandinavian market, before it is lost, forever possibly.
With the current costs associated with running any tourism enterprise on Barbados, it is clearly obvious, that we cannot seriously compete in mass tourism, so we have to better target, where our visitors live and their ability to book and travel to perceived iconic destinations.
Whatever, ultimately happens with Scotland remaining part of the post- Brexit United Kingdom, there is certainly the negotiated possibility of non-APD (Advance Passenger Duty) taxed flights departing from Scottish airports at considerable savings to passengers.
From media reports, the Scottish Passenger Agents Association has already discussed the possibility of restoring Glasgow flights with our tourism planners.
Secondly, as someone who has been deeply involved in the sale of a hotel over the last couple of years, it has become abundantly clear to me, that our overall investment climate needs a radical overhaul.
Currently for potential new investors, whether local or overseas, it is far too complicated, restrictive and fragmented.
It is not solely down to the public sector and the inevitable delays in securing basic information and documentation, but our banks and legal fraternity has to share part of the blame as well.
While past Government’s may have put accepted criteria in place for investment and repatriation of registered funds, it is clear that these conditions and minor concessions are not widely understood by the many and diverse ministries and their employees involved in completing any process.
For years, I have called for a one-stop investment shop, where any would-be investor can extract all the necessary documentation and information under one simple online roof.
We have to decide whether or not, tourism is our business and if further private sector involvement is an integral part of our eventual economic recovery.
The sooner this happens, the closer we will be to making this a tangible reality.