Adrian Loveridge Column – Coronavirus Uncertainty

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Perhaps the single biggest challenge to our ‘local’ tourism industry is the uncertainty that the Coronavirus brings with it. Many airlines that service Barbados have sensibly implemented a no-change fee, subject to various conditions, some more generous than others, which allows those booking in a restricted time window to change flight dates without financial penalties.

Likewise, an increasing number of tour operators have adopted a similar policy.

At this time, it has to be the most responsible policy to adopt. There is absolutely no mileage into forcing people who have already booked and made a substantial economic commitment, to travel at a time they feel threatened, whether that perception is realistic or not. This is especially concerning to our more mature visitors, who understandably feel substantially more at risk. It’s already a difficult time for the airlines with the ongoing Boeing B737 MAX problems, not looking even remotely likely to re-enter service until very late this year.

Perhaps, at least partially mitigating this situation is the dramatic fall in oil prices, reaching the lowest per barrel prices for nearly 30 years and reflected in the one third lower cost of aviation fuel over the last year (source: IATA).

The next ‘moral conundrum’ stance that these airlines will be forced to make is for all those passengers who have booked and paid for tickets outside the newly revised Coronavirus conditions and whether people already holding confirmed flights will actually ‘risk’ travelling. In my case, I am due to travel across the Atlantic within the next two weeks.  Do we simply ‘write-off’ the cost of the tickets if the involved airline refuses to transfer to a later date, or does the carrier gain our valuable onward brand loyalty by allowing changes? Under current rules air carriers are allowed to cancel and exempt from paying compensation up to 14 days prior to travel.

For our policymakers, this scenario is close to a nightmare.

Damned if you do, or damned if you don’t, while I honestly believe they are doing all that they reasonably can, given the fact, that frankly, none of us know how the ultimate sequence of events are going to develop. Likewise for our hotels and other accommodation providers, do they adopt a carry-forward stance without forfeiture, where confirmed guests having paid deposits are allowed to re-book for a later date?

Obviously, there is a real net cost to our tourism partners here, as you cannot sell an empty room twice, to compensate for the loss, but there is a much better chance of retaining that guest with good faith for a future stay. That certainly was the approach that worked for our small hotel in previous occasions, where there was no tangible element to apportion blame and liability.

Whatever the end game, it is inevitable that there will be negative fiscal consequences for the country and I am sure that our planners at the highest level are currently implementing mitigating measures, to possibly minimize this level of potential damage.

Government might even consider speeding up the essential revision of taxes and levies on tourism, which will help make our offerings more affordable to a domestic market, that are now also faced with dwindling overseas travel options.

21 comments

  • PoorPeacefulandPolite

    Go big, go early. Close the island to new bookings for inward travel (at source) for a month with self isolation for returning citizens and residents .

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  • What happens after a month if other countries have not reached your stage of containment?

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  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will close its borders to all non-Canadians, apart from U.S. citizens and diplomats, to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    Liked by 1 person

  • “For our policymakers, this scenario is close to a nightmare.

    Damned if you do, or damned if you don’t, while I honestly believe they are doing all that they reasonably can, given the fact, that frankly, none of us know how the ultimate sequence of events are going to develop.”

    You measure a man by his words. A simple and honest assessment of the facts.
    On the TheO scale “7 feet tall”

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  • In the 70’s and 80’s regional governments took a decision to transform to service based economies. We are now dealing with the downside risk associated.

    With is clear is that it will take smart medium and long term policies to shift from our mooring. The islands do not benefit from preferential agreements as was the case pre -80s. We also need the brain thrust in the private sector to raise their hand.

    >

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  • Sorry to disappoint you Adrian. In order to develop an international tourist industry you require an aviation service.

    The link below does not make for good reading. We need to find alternative industries.

    ” “By the end of May 2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt,” the Centre for Aviation said. “Coordinated government and industry action is needed – now – if catastrophe is to be avoided.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/16/ryanair-cancels-80-per-cent-of-flights-and-does-not-rule-out-full-grounding-coronavirus

    Liked by 1 person

  • The future does not look very bright for Sandals.

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  • Worth the listen… Positive outlooks and words of encouragement from a Jamaican family living in Wuhan, China .

    A Jamaican family living in Wuhan, China where the Coronavirus (Covid-19) was first discovered, had a message for us back home currently dealing with the outbreak. The family shared some useful tips; here’s their story.

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  • @ David March 16, 2020 3:50 PM

    “We also need the brain thrust in the private sector to raise their hand”.

    You keep on waiting. You and many will die before they raise their arms. They have shown over the years that they are dependent on government hand outs: have never come up with ideas at all. They have been content to import and sell to a captive market and their brain cells have become ossified as a result. Having preferential agreements were bad for the development of this country. The agreements resulted in Barbadians never having to face facts that it is a dog eat dog world and that promoting a merit-based developmental policy was what was needed for economic development. Instead sycophants were allowed to have a lot of say. The best and brightest were subjugated by being hailed as mad or foolish.

    Liked by 1 person

  • So in times like these it appears that hind sight to have switched to a dependent tourist based product was not in the country’s best interest. Rather then a multi self dependence based product such as Cane/Rum, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Educatioin and then Tourism. Ordinary travelers demand value. I don’t feel sorry for the airlines, as they have continued to gouge there passengers by making billions on reduced comfort, no change fees, and especially baggage fees. In the same respect local businessmen have controlled progress by boycotting any competition in the country that would have provided better paying jobs.

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  • ” I don’t feel sorry for the airlines, as they have continued to gouge their passengers by making billions on reduced comfort, no change fees, and especially baggage fees.”

    Can I get an “Amen?”

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  • @FearPlay

    Can you guess which business has been nominated for bailout?

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  • somebody with coronavirus in Kingston ont travelled through barbados

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  • With the covid foot about to step on Barbados someone thought it made sense to off a brit….just wonderful

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  • @ Lawson

    Historically journalism (new media) has always been sued as a front for the CIA and other spy networks. Just look at Blake, Philby, MacClean and the other Cambridge spies or the CIA and Robert Conquest.
    I am being encouraged in thinking that David BU is fronting for some information-gathering network. Think of it: Running a free blog for ten years virtually fulltime; no obvious monetising; trying to set the national political agenda; and diverting controversial (or unpopular) posts from some people ie yours on the coronavirus infection in Barbados. And all this is free to users. As the old saying goes, if you are not paying for a product, then you are the product. Notice how he takes strong positions on some subjects and individuals..
    Who is he working for? The Yanks? The Canadians? The Brits?

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  • @ David

    Are these accusations of Hal’s factual? Defend your self.

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  • @Dr.Lucas

    Where ignorance is bliss it’s foll to be…?

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  • The blogmaster just passed through Oistins, it was a ghost town at a time when it is usually teaming with tourists and locals alike.

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  • In one way great news, people are listening but it is going to hurt in the short term.I noticed a lot of people vaping when I was there a few weeks ago and some new stores for that product since my last time down, I think they have said that covid can be more intense on people doing it. The young should be made aware. Barbados from what I can see has a good rapore with China, and since it was their treachery that has opened this pandora’s box you should be ahead of the curve asking them for supplies and financial backing of loans etc if this thing really goes south.

    Like

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