This week’s column marks a personal milestone, 520 weekly or ten years submissions amounting to around 260,000 words and entirely dedicated to a single subject, tourism.
The objective was never to suggest that there is any one particular ‘holy grail’ solution to the challenges that continually face the industry, either in good times, let alone the unprecedented demanding current period, but more to throw out questions and ideas that may encourage our decision makers to take all possible considerations into account, before formulating policies.
In my humble view, the single biggest present obstacle standing in the way of short to medium tourism recovery is the perceived or real lack of travel confidence in all our traditional markets.
Potential visitors are still reticent to sit on a plane for up to nine hours until they are absolutely sure, there is little or no risk of being infected by Covid-19.
Until mandatory pre-flight testing is a universal requirement, whatever we do at a local level is going to be at least partially negatively impacted.
Secondly, rumours abound across the social media arena that at least one or more major tour operators have cancelled all previously booked package holidays to Barbados for the rest of this year.
Attempts to seek clarification from those companies regrettably have met with no response and until they make it absolutely clear that this is not the case, speculation will linger.
We must also move away, at least for the next few months, from our dependency of being primarily a travel trade driven destination.
A higher percentage of direct bookings could well aid economic recovery, both at an individual property and national level.
A whole combination of events has led to an all-time low in the travelling public’s confidence and trust in sections of the operator and airline companies.
These include the ongoing delay in refunding holidays and flights booked prior to the pandemic, particular tour operators who have delayed payment to hotels and other accommodation providers for stays already completed and continued uncertainty regarding the restoration of airlift.
The return of British Airways on a daily Heathrow service is very encouraging from October, but incredibly disappointing, that it appears, neither of the two involved Governments have lowered or eliminated excessive taxes on the fares, including the United Kingdom Advanced Passenger Duty (APD) plus both VAT and not one but two departure taxes in the case of Barbados.
Of course, ‘we’ have not been told about any possible taxpayer seat subsidies that the airline may have negotiated, to ensure viable capacity, so this may have some bearing on ‘our’ Government’s decision.
One day, our policymakers will have to finally realize that there are only just so many ways you can extract taxes from potential visitors, even in ‘normal’ times, let alone during a prolonged recession across all major markets.
If price deters people travelling to a certain destination, then Government clearly cannot collect VAT, room and all the other levies on a stay that does not actually takes place.
Our population is not naïve enough to understand that post Pandemic they are going to have to pay for all the measures that have been put in place during Covid-19 through increased tax collection.
But let us not cook the golden goose before they even reach here.
That goose is already cooked. Read Peter Lawrence Thompson or provide a more compelling argument. A house of Cards cannot fill bellies. In spite of the lure of jobs held out to the government and people of Barbados, tourism as practiced here is just not up to the job needed. A net user of foreign exchange at the mercy of tour companies and now shamefully begging government to pay the costs of permanently firing long serving, long suffering employees,. Government is well advised to continue the search for more sustainable employment for its citizens.
All minority-haters on the island, such as the radical Presscott, must finally understand that tourists and expats are the main contributors to our gross national product. Without these groups, our gross national product is an estimated 5000 dollars per capita – less than in many African countries.
Those who are now dreaming of “diversification” should finally recognize that Barbadians are unsuitable for hard work on the plantation today, that we have no IT industry and that exports are almost zero due to excessive taxes.
So is there a solution that will allow Barbadians to continue to live an effortless life at the expense of creditors? No. It would be the first time since the ill-fated declaration of independence that the inhabitants of the plantation called Barbados would have to face reality: wages in Barbados are far too high, work morale is poor, imports of work equipment are far too expensive and there are possibly more public servants than private employees – these are extremely difficult conditions for a sustainable economic recovery.
Sometimes you jest, but quite often your words are brutally/painfully frank and correct.
Adrian is right, any sane thinking person knows that someone is going to have to pay for this virus and it isn’t the poor. No the middleclass will bare the brunt as usual in the way of increased property taxes vat income taxes etc.. I ran into a friend walking yesterday a world traveler and we talked about travel in the near and foreseeable future and we both have put all immediate travel on hold and have seen a definite change in attitude of many people we know. Firstly covid has slowed everything down the hustle and chase for the almighty dollar has been replaced with more time to relax with family and friends a lot more day to day fun than that 2 week party vacation every year. Starting to explore our own country with encouragement from the govt. for staycations with no fear of being trapped somewhere if the virus returns our china lets another one get loose appeals to many old people. Second money is tight that new car every two years might be five, the addition on the house may have to wait, maybe the kids aren’t to eager to leave the nest but many people are starting to like drinking and eating at home or day trips with family and friends even if they don’t have to. very similar to Bajans. So money and visitors are going to shrink for a lot of places so best get all the players together get a real strategy and remember there is only so many billionaires and millionaires to go around.
A useful comment.
First out the box are the UWI fees increase.
Wheel and come again lawson
The poor have already been stretch to the limit
High bills. Fees and taxes out of reach of their limited income
Not to mention govt shameful borrowing on a Mickey mouse plan called. Boss
Oh btw some of them govt workers have mortgages and property taxes to pay
The poor are always stretched to the limit, covid is actually better for them at least in canada but I think barbados must be similar, Cerb has given them an increase in money per month and lets face it they are not paying it back . There are two things that happened during the black death one the price of housing came down because there wasn’t that many people that needed it and two the minimum wage went up because the rich still needed people to work and there wasn’t many of them around so pandemics in some ways benefit the poor. A lot of housing and schooling for the poor is subsidized so please dont try and say people of limited means are paying for everything it is just stupid. The middle class carries the load
Unlike Canada financial support from government is not sustainable.
Mari, UWI fees ain’t got nothing to do with the government.
The notion of airline universal testing is a non-starter. For Barbados to reinvigorate its tourism industry the following has to be done.
Remove the MANDATORY isolation of tourists (as well as Bajans) if they catch the Covid Cold. I already know of many individuals and couples who have cancelled plans to come to Barbados. Nobody wishes to have the sceptre of going to a Government Isolation facility hanging over their heads when on vacation. Barbados, Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the world currently doing this and all are at ZERO when it comes to tourism. For those people who believe that tourists will choose Barbados because of its beauty they are out to lunch. Current popular vacation spots such as the entire EU region, the USA (and yes Las Vegas and Florida are booming) Jamaica and Antigua allow you to arrive without the prospect of ending up in an isolation camp for your vacation.
Secondly Barbados needs to educate the public on the true dangers of Covid. This is not a “deadly virus” as the Nation and Barbados Today refer to in every article. They surely don’t write the “deadly pneumonia” or “deadly influenza” or even the “deadly HIV” when referring to those. This fear mongering has to stop. There are now 8 months of known history and results of Covid. The facts are the facts, 99% of deaths have been in 80+ year olds with 2.7 comorbidities. Between 50-85% of deaths have been in long term care homes depending on which country you examine. Covid is not killing 30 year old accountants or 40 year old bartenders or 23 year old UWI students.
The government of Barbados has to inform the public of the reality that Covid is here to stay, that even after a vaccine is ever invented there will still be a risk of dying from Covid – as hundreds of thousands die annually from the Flu to which we have multiple vaccines. In conjunction with such an education campaign the notion of isolating Covid cases has to stop. I surmise that this re-education is already starting as every day the GIS reports a new Covid case they highlight the fact that the individual is asymptomatic. Again showing that Covid is common cold to 99% of those who catch it, and guess what, we have all caught it already or will catch it. Isolation, quarantine or lockdown none of this will stop it from happening.
Not until Tourism Barbados puts up a notice that you are free to come and enjoy your vacation in Barbados, where we have a robust health care system to protect you not just against Covid, but the Flu, bacterial infection, broken arms/wrists/legs or even a heart attack will we see a resurgence of tourists coming to the island.
Not true at all. COVID is not the common cold. Less people are dying because there is now a greater understanding of how to treat it.
Now that treatment has improved it is feasible to open up more. Mask wearing etc. should suffice. Vulnerable people should limit their contacts.
Most Bajans are not minority haters. They are minority racist haters. If the minorities are cool with us we are cool with them.
Correction – fewer people are dying
@ Lawson August 24, 2020 10:43 AM
Well articulated. reality is evident, no ifs and buts.
@Ricardo at 3:38 p.m. “as every day the GIS reports a new Covid case they highlight the fact that the individual is asymptomatic. Again showing that Covid is common cold to 99% of those who catch it.”
This is NOT true. If you wish to advance an argument you should first start with the TRUTH.
I am not a scientist, but the people at Johns Hopkins University are. I checked their site moments ago and this is the truth. Covid is not common cold to 99% of people who catch it. These are the % of people who caught covid and died. This number does not include the thousands of people who needed to be EXPENSIVELY hospitalized:
Yemen 28.9% died
Italy 13.7% died
U.K 12.7% died
Belgium 12.2% died
Hungary 11.9% died
France 10.9% died
Mexico 10.85 died
Netherlands 9.1% died
Chad 7.7% died
@Ricardo at 3:38 p.m. “Not until Tourism Barbados puts up a notice that you are free to come and enjoy your vacation in Barbados, where we have a robust health care system to protect you not just against Covid, but the Flu, bacterial infection, broken arms/wrists/legs or even a heart attack.”
Our health care system is good, but not so good that if covid19 runs rampant that we will have the capacity to care for all of the visitors and all of the residents who may need to be hospitalized, and if we cannot care for our visitors and they start dying on our hands how to we live down that?
So this is what the death rates are in the countries from which our visitors come:
United Kingdom 12.7% died
Canada 7.2% died
U.S.A. 3.1% died
Antigua 3.2% died
Trinidad & Tobago 1.4% died
Jamaica 1% died
When I see something like this
“For Barbados to reinvigorate its tourism industry the following has to be done.
Remove the MANDATORY isolation of tourists (as well as Bajans) if they catch the Covid Cold”
I stop reading
These are the countries which have a COVID19 mortality rate of 1% or less:
United Arab Emirates
West Bank and Gaza
Every where else Covid19 has been killing sick people at 3, 4, 10, 12, more than 25 times the rate of your FICTIONAL 1%
And besides the isolation center is not so bad. An American who stayed with me last year [one of my young people wuk-up crew, lol!!!] was isolated a few weeks ago and she said that she was treated very, very well.
I want to see return to normalcy as much as anybody else, but sadly these are not normal times. i know that some people believe that we elders with pre existing conditions should de’d and ga long and stop bothering the young people. But we elders are also lab technicians, nurses, doctors, hotel owners, hoteliers, barmen, waitresses,housekeepers, baby sitters, and often the care givers for elementary school children so that the young parents can go to work. And care givers for the old-old so that middled aged people can continue to go to work.
We too help to make the wheels of the economy go ’round.
Another phenomena that is happening up here is a lot of people are working from home a lot of people want to get out of the high end condos so they can cocoon away from others ,not getting stuck on elevators not being able to use the gym or pool in the building makes them less desirable. So single family or semi-detach prices have shot up. In the space of a year my buddy’s house shot up 300 grand in 2 years which he was all excited about but this is exactly what I was talking about, so he sells it but now has to move farther from the area where he is to put that money in his pocket. Now because a couple of those sales happen in the area the tax people up everyone’s evaluations because that 300 grand is 3000 in yearly property tax as I said the middle class is gonna pay one way or the other. Another consequence is the old age pensioner who has been living there for years is taxed out of his home because of the property evaluation sure gets a whack of cash when he sells but has to go into a home which syphons it off, live with family who syphon it off puts it in the bank at no interest but anyway you look at it he ends up worse off .
Cudhear keep in mind barbados targets the rich, I dont know if Gander…sorry Drake or Rihanna would consider them 5 star
@Lawson August 24, 2020 6:21 PM
I can’t believe that for once I am agreeing with lawson.
Went to Sandy Lane beach last week, that is a 5 star beach for sure. There were only about 10 people there which was good for my family’s enjoyment, but I know bad for the tourism industry, and Barbados’ economy. But is was a super nice afternoon.
We ALL need a covid19 test that is quick, cheap and accurate.
Hopefully other airlines will do the same.
The airlines are vested in finding solutions, thousands of planes parked are on aprons all over .
A higher percentage of direct bookings could well aid economic recovery, both at an individual property and national level.
I completely agree 100% and again make a call for a National reservation/Booking center to be started that portrays all accommodation & ancillary services.
To those who preach doom and gloom for the tourism industry, I suggest that you listen to David Ellis on Brass Tacks yesterday when he called for less negativity and more creative and innovative thinking to bring us out of the economic mire.
Let us not be bogged down with what is happening today with covid-19 right now. Let us instead plan for a bright future for Barbados as a continued reputable tourism destination after the pandemic.
I believe in the saying “God helps those who help themselves” It is time that we took the important decision to see how we can control our tourism industry by going directly to the clients. This is relevant especially at a time when they are suspicious of tour operators that still have not refunded them their money. The world is changing. Let us not only change with it but shape the direction to our benefit.
The first step is a National reservation/Booking center headquartered in Barbados and active in the UK & USA.
Setting this up is easy. I am not the only one that can share a structured plan for setting this up with a plan which will include how, where, staffing, marketing etc.
I hope that the BHTA membership will see this as a positive concept and be on board with others that are not their members.
@cuhdearbajan I don’t know if you are mocking or being serious. Your death rates that you list there are case fatality rates which are NOT at all an accurate measure of the lethality of Covid. The real number is one that is based on incidence fatality rates. I am sure you know this as your argument as wrong as it is, was eloquent. Just using the USA as and Example, the CDC has estimated that the true Covid Infection rate is at a minimum 10x and up to 20x greater than the actual documented Cases. Thus lets take the middle ground as 15x. 5.7 million positive cases x 15 equals 85,500,000 people have actually had Covid. Of that you have your 177,000 deaths, divided into 85.5 million gives us a true fatality rate of 0.207%. Therefore Covid is NOT more lethal than the Normal Seasonal Flu as it has a fatality rate of 0.1-0.2%, and in fact I stand corrected Covid is thus not lethal to 99.8% of people who are infected.
When it comes to rapid testing, the CDC just yesterday recommended NOT randomly testing asymptomatic people (i.e. people with no symptoms who they just test) and focusing all testing on symptomatic people and people in high risk settings or cohorts. Thus again we have the CDC throwing out the notion that you should be testing every living and walking human for covid because it is not helpful in any way.
On a last note, every single public health organization and figure has stated the Covid is here to stay. It is not evaporating into oblivion, it is going to be infecting people just as the flu does for the next 10,000 years. A vaccine will limit it but the flu has a vaccine and hundreds of thousands die annually. Therefore a government has to decide what is their acceptable level of Covid. Does Barbados truly believe there should be ZERO covid and they plan on testing every incoming individual (with the threat of covid isolation if sick) for the next 50 years? They don’t test for any Flu virus, malaria, dengue, zika – thus they have accepted these diseases can circulate and sicken and kill people. Covid is no different, a reasonable level headed plan that doesn’t involve locking up anyone who catches the Covid cold has to be implemented. Zero cases is in no way an option.
Until the isolation facility is shut down and government steps and truly welcomes visitors as France and Italy do now without the threat of being locked up, tourism will be close to zero and Barbados will have to learn to live with the current 40% unemployment rate which I think we can all agree is much more dangerous than any virus.
@ Andrew Nehaul August 25, 2020 3:08 AM
“National reservation/Booking center”
So you still want ANOTHER state tourism organization. And who will pay for that? The local taxpayers? The tourists who are already being exploited excessively?
It is always the same: In the past, Barbadians always called the massa “plantation owner” in case of problems, since 1966 the massa “state”.
I concur 100% that a Barbados National Booking Engine covering all types of accommodation and ancillary services is required to generate visitor traffic. Currently exploring It technology for such a facility as I am fully aware of requirements for establishing same on island. No taxpayers funds involved.
Oh lord david stop gloating on that gimmicky news
That kind of gimmick not going to pull barbados households out of the dark days of poverty
Moreover the short term of that gimmick simply tries to hold the hands of a failing tourism industry and is a drop in the bucket for govt revenue
Govt is avoiding do what is possible and realistic by stimulating the economy by way of putting the spending power in the hands of the people Now
Implementing policies that will ensure that the local economy can survive these Covid times
Thank you @Ricardo for making the point that case fatality rates quoted by @CuhdearBajan are not a useful measure at all to assess how lethal Covid-19 is, or is not. It seems to me that very many people want this disease to be worse than it is, probably to justify the harsh and repressive measures that governments (and individuals) have taken to avoid infection – a case of burning the house down to get rid of a mouse.
Source: Nation Newspaper
It is very easy to generate new jobs. However, our government would have to imprison or deport the bishops, union leaders and all other clerical fascists and rebels.
If our government would be brave enough, we could create at least 20000 new jobs within a short time with cannabis cultivation, prostitution, gambling, child labor and other alternative industries.
Better to work than to starve.