Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism Matters

During the last 31 years whilst residing on Barbados and an overall total of 50 years since actively promoting the destination, I have witnessed many Ministers of Tourism come and go. Many, far more informed persons, will judge their individual contribution to the overall betterment of the industry and any lasting legacy they personally have left.

I sincerely wish the new Minister all the very best in the world during these unprecedented challenging times and let no-one labour under the illusion that any single person can remedy or return our tourism offerings to anything close to normality in the short term.

For me, two past Minister of Tourism’s stand out in the crowd, the late Sir Harold St. John and Peter Morgan. For the simple reason, that they both had the amazing ability of patience to listen to all persons, at every level, within the industry. This did not necessarily translate that they would incorporate ideas proffered by those people, but the mere fact they felt included, made all the difference.

They both also returned phone calls and/or messages, leaving even the seemingly lowest level of tourism worker feeling that their contribution was important. I earnestly hope that this level of response returns to the Ministry of Tourism, especially now that it probably has the largest number of staff employed during its entire history.

When in 1989 we purchased the then derelict Arawak Inn, Sir Harold was a frequent visitor, giving us incredible encouragement, even at a time when his family’s property was a direct competitor located just half-a-mile away. Since then, Ministerial visits have been a rarity.

Over the last few years the lodging economic landscape has dramatically changed with the two largest hotel groupings now being foreign owned. This will of course significantly affect how they both respond to the current Covid-19 pandemic, being able to source capital offshore at considerably more competitive interest rates to assist them through the recovery period.

Our indigenous hotels and other accommodation providers on the other hand, will have to continue their battle with the banks authorized to operate on-island, subject to existing lending terms, which are almost impossible to meet during current times.

We too, also have to realize that there are certain integral component parts of tourism that cannot be directly controlled, like airlift. Until infection numbers substantially reduce in our key markets and people regain the confidence to travel, we can only implement policies that re-assure any potential visitors, that everything possible to protect them locally, has been put in place.

While Government has done an extraordinary job in limiting the local damage of Coronavirus, we are still fighting the perception of risk, compounded by the economic realities of higher unemployment and depleted earned incomes from our source markets.

Other countries have turned to stimulating domestic tourism to partially soften the blow and mitigate the loss of jobs. ‘We’ have so far chosen not to and time will tell if this was a wise decision.

41 comments

  • “While Government has done an extraordinary job in limiting the local damage of Coronavirus, we are still fighting the perception of risk, compounded by the economic realities of higher unemployment and depleted earned incomes from our source markets.”

    In light of the recent “spike” to 132 positive cases, and more to come, this statement may need to re-phrased!!

    “Other countries have turned to stimulating domestic tourism to partially soften the blow and mitigate the loss of jobs. ‘We’ have so far chosen not to and time will tell if this was a wise decision.”

    I am not holding my breath ….. locals on “Staycation” don’t necessarily spend/bring-in FX so this type of initiative will always be at the bottom of their list!! My recent experience at a popular local hotel, re a Staycation, showed up shabby treatment of a local group … our 3-day Staycation lasted ONE day!!!

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    No Adrian, tourism does not “matter,” the Barbadian economy and Bajan livelihoods matter… tourism is simply a temporary means to those ends. As soon as tourism has outlived its usefulness to Barbados, we will consign it to the dustbin of history.

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  • Adrian Loveridge

    Then please Peter, please come up with a plausible, practical solution to replacing tourism in the short to middle term. We hear from so many people that tourism is dead, but almost always from those who offer no solution or workable alternative. We are anxiously awaiting…

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  • @Peter

    Have you heard anything coming out of the Jobs and Investment Committee? It looks we will have to wait until the House restarts in August and the Throne Speech is delivered. Dr. Don Marshall made passing reference yesterday on national radio.

    If tourism is dead we are in deep because there has been nothing mentioned so far to fill that GDP hole.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    I already have Adrian. I suggested setting up Barbados as a remote work location of choice in a low covid environment back in April to the Cabinet, and the PM innovated the Barbados Welcome Stamp in July. Have you not been paying attention to the tsunami of positive attention that her proposal has gotten around the globe? This is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and is the best marketing that Barbados has EVER gotten.

    Make no mistake, this is NOT simply long stay tourism: this is a new product, in a new industry, part of a new marketplace, for new clients, with new requirements.

    If our current radically reduced airlift capacity was composed of people coming to work remotely in Barbados, between now and the end of 2020 we could have 10,000 visitors here in this new industry. 10,000 visitors staying for an average of 52 weeks can be approximately the same visitor spend as 500,000 visitors who stay for an average of only one week.

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  • @PLT

    Don’t go over the top. It was your idea, but what are the details?Will these remote workers pay income taxes in Barbados? How about national insurance? If they have families, how about their education? Road use, the utilities?
    But the greatest marketing initiative ever? Please…..Hope the Georgians pay you a bonus for stealing your idea.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    @Hal
    Remote workers will pay income taxes in their countries where they earn that income. They will pay consumption taxes like VAT here in Barbados where they do their consumption. Simple. They will not pay national insurance norr will they be covered by it. If they have families they will either be enrolled online in the same school system that has moved online due to covid, or they will pay fees to enrol in a local school. They will be paying utilities along with all the other costs of their accomodation, either separately or rolled into the monthly rent. Road use is covered by the taxes on the fuel they buy for their rental vehicles.

    I challenge you to dig through every single Barbados promotion since 1960 and find one that has gotten even a fraction of the reach and coverage that the free coverage of the PM’s initiative has garnered. Google “Barbados Welcome Stamp” and you get tens of thousands of earned media articles from around the globe gushing over the initiative. No BTMI promotion has ever even gotten 10% of that response.

    The Georgians cannot possibly have stolen my idea because it was given to Bajans pro bono publico… It is impossible to be convicted of stealing what has been given to you 100% free of charge.

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  • Adrian Loveridge

    I agree that the 12 month welcome stamp has attracted an incredible amount of destination awareness, but once again it was half the job. No links to affordable long term health and repatriation insurance, no clarity of exactly how the proof of income was going to be verified, no simple one-link list of available accommodation and it will be interesting to hear (if we are ever told) of just how many people (individuals and families) it has/will attract over the next year. Once again, no-one thinks these ideas through and monitors their results.

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  • @PLT

    Nice to know you are not a tax expert – neither am I. I suggest, however, you speak to a tax expert on this. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. As economics it is barmy. Have a word with Dr Greenidge about so-called fiscal space.
    As to marketing, it seems to me you are going over the top on your project.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    I agree Adrian that it’s only half the job, but the other half is ENTIRELY the responsibility of the private sector. Where is Sagicor? Where is Guardian? For the moment I am directing the prospects that I talk to toward global providers that are accustomed to selling health insurance to people who sail around on cruising sailboats for years at a time.

    Proof of income is easy: last year’s tax return and/or a letter from employer.

    What are your colleagues in the tourism industry doing to build this new industry for the benefit of Barbados? Anything? Or are they just whining about getting relief by leeching off the public purse?

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  • We have to give the government credit that Petra Roach and her team have a FAQ prepared to answer questions from welcome stamp seekers.

    We have to believe!

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    @Hal
    I’ve been talking to many tax experts over the past few months. I’ve been trying to advise the government that they need to get documentation such as a sworn affidavit from each Barbados Welcome Stamp holder that they remain a tax resident of their country of origin. This is because as soon as this takes off the EU and OECD will try desperately to find excuses to put Barbados on a tax haven blacklist because it might cost them tax revenue.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    @David August 3, 2020 11:32 AM
    “We have to give the government credit that Petra Roach and her team have a FAQ…”
    +++++++++++++++++++
    The FAQ that the BTMI has published so far is pathetically inadequate. To optimise success the Barbados Welcome Stamp experience needs to be curated throughout the process, not simply be a sales job that ends when the visa is issued. This, however, should be done by private sector service providers, but none have so far stepped up to the wicket.

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  • Haven’t you heard, Barbados is a public sector led economy.

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  • @PLT

    I am no expert, but I worked closely for a long time with independent financial advisers, a central part of whose job is advising clients on personal taxation. Maybe I was not listening to what they were saying.
    Go ahead. Barbados is a sovereign state.

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  • @Peter

    The FAQ should direct the registrants. The BTMI should not be expected to be the repository of all information.

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  • de pedantic Dribbler

    @PLT, your idea is a fantastic one and has definitely generated the type of PR attention that essentially causes much salivation in anticipation of the hearty meal one can’t wait to enjoy…

    … But good sir the problem with good food is that although you can add your own unique, savory sauce to encourage quick growth in your customer base the simple fact is that other chefs can take your idea add some sauces of their own and create their own awesome dishes…

    Surely, the thinking is that there are enough ‘hungry’ folks to propel the growth of multiple such ‘food choices’ and I imagine that your plans also include other incentives to provide a competitive advantage or at minimum provide an immediate very attractive lure… to try YOUR dish!

    And of course, congrats on moving from concept to an actual ‘edible’ product so purposefully and quickly.

    As an over 50er myself I also give you kudos for being as sharp now – in this gadget-tech-centric era supposedly dominated by the ideas of young folks – as you were prior to retirement … although real, note-worthy idea generation has no age limitation our youngsters seem to perceive that the older folks are fossils only to be tolerated 🙂 !

    All that said, I must agree with the sentiment that you are going overboard… surely ANY idea that takes off ‘today’ can be labelled ‘the best marketing that Barbados has EVER gotten’… it’s a function of the reach of social media: lies, distortions and blatantly absurd claims bounce around the globe as quickly as grand ideas… as never before.

    Let’s keep it real, definitely give you the plaudits of a well-considered plan and as in any such scenario you now will work hell-to-leather to ensure that you (Bim) can make the most profit from the concept … barriers to entry are low so it can quickly become a ‘commodity’ product !

    Again, good stuff. I gone.

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  • I think we all agree that the tourists according to the “old” version or the tourists according to the “new” PLT version are the life blood of Barbados.

    The locals themselves are not able to feed themselves. Their productivity is lower than in many African countries. I would estimate at about 5000 USD per capita. The project of a nation state called Barbados, which is capable of surviving on its own, has failed completely. The declaration of independence of Barbados is nothing more than a historical paper without economic value. The post-colonialist Barrow then simply lacked the economic competence and intellect to recognize this outcome.

    So I am very pleased that the commentators on BU are finally acknowledging reality.

    I am equally pleased that our government is implementing good reform proposals with lightning speed. Quite unlike the Stuart government. Every year there were new ideas, for example a special zone for foreign currencies without taxes. Of course nothing at all was implemented.

    I also praise our government for no longer relying on the totally outdated nation state, but for positioning Barbados as a global brand.

    Even better than foreigners staying with us for just one year would be to tie a large number of top earners to Barbados in the long term. For me, this means that they build their villas here within gated communites like Apes Hill and also vote here. The new citizens could help us to cure the economic lethargy of our islanders and increase productivity. Diversity and new ideas are never wrong.

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  • @PLT
    Tourism is NOT dead and given Barbados’s location and natural beauty we can’t let it die. There is no quick fix replacement. Our tourism product simply has to EVOLVE.

    We think tourism is just sun, sea and sand. The most basic product that lost competitiveness 25 years ago. No linkages to heritage, agriculture, technology nothing. So how do we expect to compete in 2020?

    PLT I supported your idea but the implementation is half baked so will not produce results beyond short term vanity buzz which strokes the ego but does not pay a bill at the end of the day. We still are too basic and simple in our thinking. Mendicant mentality really that is an unfortunate byproduct of slavery and the still present colonial grip. Right up there with wearing silly white headpieces and cold climate designed clothing under the guise of being a legal luminary.

    Our modern tourism model should have already included
    Casino gambling
    Flying club / Destination fly-in targeting.
    Huge pitches to yachties
    Linkages to cottage agriculture demonstrations of hydroponics, fruit wines, cannabis cultivation and other examples that can be attractions to cruise visitors or long stay arrivals along with wine bars / gift shops for operators to earn fx from the visitors on site.

    We have excellent entertainers and they should be nightly films, music, clubs and theatre in an entertainment zone where all types of visitors can find something different and uniquely local. Our Nollywood. A Caribbean themed theme park. Split tourism partnerships with Guyana or Dominica to co-offer ecotourism etc

    So many ideas besides sun, sea and sand. But honestly our mendicant, docile, intellectually lazy leaders and technocrats always begging and waiting to be lead. Sickening frankly, and that is why ideas like what you proposed PLT will unfortunately fail.

    The ideas have always been there. It’s execution deficit that is the problem

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    The Barbados Government has at last mandated 14 day quarantine for ALL visitors arriving from high risk countries like the USA.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    @Bajeabroad August 3, 2020 1:54 PM
    “It’s execution deficit that is the problem”
    ++++++++++++++++
    You are correct… and the execution is the responsibility of the private sector. Our private sector is even more dysfunctional, selfish, and non-productive than our public sector.

    All of the initiatives you mention would have been good ideas in 1990, but the world does not stand still. The world is in the middle of an economic, behavioural, and global power alignment revolution. These are turbulent times… yesterday’s medicines are a useless prescription.

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  • Execution is the business of all sectors.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    No David, All of twentieth century history proves the conclusion that the public sector is completely unsuited to execution and implementation of complex wealth producing systems. In order to do it at all, in the health care sector for example, the systems must be designed to be non-profit, and they must be run at arms length from government through a quasi-private structure. Even then, such state owned corporations in any country have never distinguished themselves for innovation, ethical governance, or efficiency (the 3 major characteristics that we need from them).

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  • Peter we are on two different pages. The public sector creates the framework for the private sector to properly execute. Logically this means the public sector must also efficiently execute policies to ensure facilitation meets expectations by users.

    >

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  • Even then, such state owned corporations in any country have never distinguished themselves for innovation, ethical governance, or efficiency (the 3 major characteristics that we need from them)…..(Quote)

    As John McEnroe used to say, you cannot be serious. Read Mariana Mazzacuto or even today’s newspapers about SpaceX oar, even, how Trump now wants to steal TikTok technology from the Chinese for the Yanks.

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  • @ peterlawrencethompson August 3, 2020 2:43 PM

    It’s a good thing I found a fellow believer here. Please do not be distracted by David and other apologists of the big state apparatus. Apart from Scandinavia, there is no example where a large government apparatus functions. The apologists must finally realize that the public sector is the main reason for the low productivity and lethargy in Barbados.

    The more contracts a state awards, the greater the corruption. The more civil servants there are, the greater is the nepotism, where ministers award offices and consultant jobs to relatives and party friends. Also: We have 40 percent unemployment, but still 30,000 civil servants who have been on leave for many months at state expense. We should not continue to behave like drug addicts and deny the harmful effects of drugs.

    People talk a lot about mental slavery in Barbados. However, they forget the obvious, namely the state as the greatest jailer and exploiter.

    We need more people like PLT, more NOGs, more private initiative and more private business.

    The state should focus on security, education and health. Caribbean state socialism has failed.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David August 3, 2020 11:44 AM

    “Haven’t you heard, Barbados is a public sector led economy.”

    That is the reason why we have not had economic growth for 12 (T W E L V E) years and why real purchasing power is getting lower and lower and lower and lower. Our economy will not grow with this large bureaucracy. Not in 10 years, not in 100 years, not in 1000 years.

    Of course I don’t want conditions like in the USA. But Barbados is the other extreme: a socialist country with a private tourism sector financed and run by foreigners. Bureaucracy kills nearly all new local entrepreneurs in Barbados.

    Anyone who defends the human overhead in the civil service should be honest enough to tell the voters quite openly that they are choosing the path to poverty.

    Liked by 1 person

  • How revealing to read so many negative comments on why @PLT’s excellent suggestion, now adopted by government, will fail, and not one with a better idea, suggestion , recommendation or plan on the way forward.

    A famous man once said “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most do”. I know in my heart that this is not what is happening here.

    Congratulations Peter and keep pressing on with great ideas. Barbados and Barbadians will be the beneficiaries.

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  • Peter’s idea was a good idea. I don’t see what is so hard about the details. The government needs to sit down with the private sector and work them out. Unfortunately, they have made their first blunder with the imposition of administrative fees. This can be corrected. Baje Abroad is quite right about a need to upgrade our product. The entertainment offerings should be an easy place to start.

    What is so hard about it? I really don’t understand.

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  • @Fearplay

    Don’t be silly. You can’t be afraid of questions.

    No one says the idea was bad. It’s the opposite, PLT’s idea is great and creative. It’s the execution and implementation that is the problem and what we question.

    Anyone that can afford to stay and work in Barbados for a year must be and is from a certain strata in their home country and is accustomed to certain standards naturally. They are not working at Burger King.

    For these middle and upper middle class folks

    Information must be clear, easily accessible online and complete for easy decision making
    Infrastructure like water, electricity and sanitation must work 24/7
    Telecommunications and IT connectivity must be fast, affordable and work 24/7 including mobile wallets payment etc
    What are my entertainment options? Remember who is the target audience. Watching tv only won’t suffice. If we have difficulty attracting long stay visitors what will draw these new extra long stay visitors? We don’t have the same malls, Amazon, Walmart or Target. What’s the draw to stay for a year?
    Does my foreign insurance provide coverage for Covid in Barbados or do I have to buy locally? Is so where?
    What if there is an outbreak in Barbados and I have to leave quickly? What are the airline policies and options?
    Do I have to quarantine when or if I travel back home for important Meetings or emergencies? Or will Barbados be setting up special arrangements with the source market country where that is not required.
    If my family travels with me what are the school options and curriculum?
    Am staying in a house, hotel? What are my assurances that my surroundings are safe and Covid free?

    I live and work amongst the target audience and unless we can quickly answer questions like these and address concerns of an already biased audience, the press coverage will be short lived and not effective. That’s just the reality and yours or my love for Bim won’t change that.

    The devil is ALWAYS in the details and it’s a reality not a criticism. No time for wishful thinking. This is the stuff successful implementation is made of.
    If we can answer then it’s moves beyond being just a good idea.

    EXECUTION EXECUTION EXECUTION

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  • Welcome back Peter.

    Yes, the PM’S marketing tourism booster techniques will bear an exorbitant amount of fruit, with some bad in the mix. However, we wish her success in this spontaneous implementation. Other islands will jump on the idea as well. I do hope this strategy improves our GDP for fiscal 2022-2024.

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  • There is a party of 3 adults living in the UK, all with Bajans roots, who had booked accommodation before the Coronavirus struck. They eventually decided to cancel their vacation to Barbados. Their airfares have been refunded, but they have all but given up trying to get a refund from the local hotel. How many more are in a similar predicament?

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  • NorthernObserver

    @BajeAbroad
    Good observations.
    One challenge for concepts like the Welcome Stamp is finding a Champion, a single source who will push the concept and provide info as you and others suggest.
    The benefits are trickled across many sectors.
    Possibly an opportunity for the PSA to step up?

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  • Spare a thought for Lebanon. It’s major port was targeted. Observers claimed that a plane/drone was heard and may have fired at the port. Judging from the explosion it would appear that the port may no longer exist. There is a strong possibility that many thousands of people have lost their lives.

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  • TLSN you dont know that, when they say 10 firefighters were killed you know they were there fighting a fire initially, probably set off a secondary source ,propane,munitions etc

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  • take a look at the ss. mont blanc in the halifax harbour in 1917

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  • The ‘old’ tourism has actually become the new tourism. These are visitors who book their holidays to stay in Barbadian homes via Airbnb, shop in supermarkets, frequent restaurants and make use of other ‘local’ facilities so that their tourist spend actually penetrates further and deeper into the fabric of Barbadian society in comparison to traditional tourism. The visitors who will come on the Welcome visa will be looking for long term house rentals, not hotel rooms.

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  • @ peterlawrencethompson August 3, 2020 2:43 PM

    I think you will find that the elephant in the room exception to your anti-state narrative is China, which has lifted 6 million plus of its citizens out of poverty in the last 50 years and is on track to become the largest economy in the world for the foreseeable future. China is far from perfect but the evidence speaks for itself.

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  • @ Guy Pierce August 5, 2020 1:50 PM

    You cannot compare China and Barbados. The Chinese have executed numerous party cadres for corruption. In Barbados, many public servants and lawyers revere the Don like a national hero. Likewise, the work ethic in China and Barbados is different. What you call slavery in Barbados is a normal working week in China. Chinese act, in Barbados lamenting is public sport number one.

    Comparisons between Barbadian socialism and Scandinavia are just as skewed. The Norwegians have their oil wealth, we have sand and a surplus of people. In Sweden, every citizen is entitled to see his fellow citizens’ tax returns, but here there is no transparency whatsoever.

    A comparison between Barbados and the other Caribbean islands is far more revealing. Here it is a fact that half a century of socialism and far too much bureaucracy have caused us to fall further and further behind and become poorer and poorer. Look at Antigua all the other islands, where they were 20 years ago compared to Barbados. They have all caught up or overtaken us.

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  • peterlawrencethompson

    @Guy Pierce August 5, 2020 1:50 PM
    You are correct about China. I should have restricted my comparison to societies with democratic pretentions.

    Like

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