If the availability of low cost airfares from across our main markets is any indication, then January and perhaps February should be especially bumper months for our accommodation providers, especially among the lower priced budget offerings.
Return flights to Barbados from Gatwick for as little at GB Pounds 269, which is quite remarkable in itself, when you consider this fare includes the British Advanced Passenger Duty (APD) of GB Pounds 78 and our combined two departure taxes of US$97.50 or about GB Pounds 75. And these flights are operated with modern state-of-the-art aircraft like the B787 Dreamliner.
But it is not just in the United Kingdom market.
Air Canada has been aggressively advertising sale fares with one way flights starting from under CAD$223 from Toronto and Montreal CAD$209.
American Airlines have introduced special AAdvantage options requiring as low as 8,000 miles for a flight from Miami to Barbados plus US$7.10 in taxes. The lowest requirement I have seen in my 30 plus years of membership.
This in itself, has opened up alternate non-direct flights using carriers like Norwegian Airlines from Gatwick to Miami and connecting with American for as little as GB Pounds 110 per entire one way journey. This also gives passengers the option to break their journey in the United States to take full benefit of cheaper shopping possibilities, further offsetting the overall expense.
Continental Europe has also not been left out with the direct nonstop flights with Eurowings from Frankfurt airport. But there still remain options with Condor via Grenada for as little as Euro 460 return or around US$510.
While perhaps our tourism planners have understandable allegiance to existing legacy carriers which currently service us, perhaps partially justified by marketing support, there is no doubt a significant market for these flight bargains exist.
This includes our second home visitors, allowing them additional holiday opportunities or the possibility of passing their accommodation usage onto family or friends.
After all, apart from the deterrent taxes our Government imposes on air travel, they extract no further levy collection, unless those savvy travellers actually stay on-island; eat in our restaurants; rent cars; shop and visit attractions and activities.
So it is entirely in our national tourism interests to get people here in the most affordable way that we can and to encourage them to make multiple visits.
The spectacular collapse of the Thomas Cook Group late last year has perhaps highlighted that no longer can the travel industry do business as usual, whether it’s in the United Kingdom or elsewhere and that our cherished visitors are far more aware of the booking options available.
Many are looking for creative ways to combat or offset our increasingly high prices and the lingering effects of currency exchange.
Unless we fully wake up to the realities of this situation, then it is almost inevitable that we will lose market share to those destinations far more willing to adapt. While at this time of the year, it is easy to accept that climatic conditions in our northern markets largely help drive arrival numbers, we should remain fully cognizant, that 4 or 5 months revenue does not pay a year of bills.