A Heather Cole Column – Where is the Vision for Tourism?
Two things occurred which were reported in the press on June 30th, 2021 that makes one wonder what the vision for the Tourism Industry is and if there is synchronization of the plans and actions in the various departments of Government. First was an article in which it was reported that the Minister of Tourism Lisa Cummins spoke to the workers of the Grantley Adam’s International Airport about branding. Second was the delivery of the Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn who stated that government had undertaken debt of $ 80 Million of the Needham’s Point Holdings Ltd which operates the Hilton Barbados Hotel by issuing a new series of B Bonds to bondholders.
These 2 seemingly unrelated occurrences makes one question the leadership at the Ministry of Tourism and the action of Mr. Straughn with regards of the plans for the industry if one takes it as a given that a vision is translated into measurable plans of action or a roadmap to achieve desired goals.
- Protect Barbados’ brand at airport, minister urges
- Minister Straughn says hotel’s debt ‘restructured’
What are the objectives of the Ministry of Tourism?
Having not seen the written plans of the Ministry of Tourism, there is that degree of difficulty to state the current purpose of that entity. No one knows the purpose of the tourism industry in Barbados as its objectives or goals are not listed on the website which is shared with the Ministry of International Transport. Only the purpose of the Ministry of International Transport is listed.
The vision that should be listed on the Website should be nothing less than to eradicate poverty by a specific date. Tourism should be of service to the people of Barbados and the development of the island, otherwise what is its purpose?
The number one revenue earner in Barbados is tourism. It must serve some development goal of Barbados. Poverty eradication must be the number one development goal of Barbados. Tourism is best fitted as a tool of development to eradicate poverty in Barbados. Some persons believe that poverty cannot be eradicated. Nelson Mandela stated “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”
With the amount of money that has been earned in Barbados since the late 70’s, there should be no poverty here. A portion of the earnings for tourism must be used to eradicate poverty and the Unit which falls under the Prime Minister’s office should be moved to the Ministry of Tourism. One must agree that the poor housing stock of the lower classes in Barbados is a direct result of poverty and we must set out to change this as climate change may bring hurricanes to our shores each year.
|Barbados Tourism Statistics – Historical Data|
|Year||Spending ($)||% of Exports|
International tourism receipts are expenditures by international inbound visitors, including payments to national carriers for international transport. These receipts include any other prepayment made for goods or services received in the destination country. They also may include receipts from same-day visitors, except when these are important enough to justify separate classification. For some countries they do not include receipts for passenger transport items. Data is in current U.S. dollars.
Government Contracts can be used to eradicate Poverty.
Despite the focus on tourism, the Government of Barbados also has a major role to play in poverty eradication. Its current policy of awarding contracts to a select few Barbadians has perpetrated the existence of the very wealthy and poverty. If wealth can be created by the government awarding of its contracts, then poverty can be eradicated using the system to award the contracts to a company that is owned by the people.
The Barbados Brand
On 30th June, the Minister was reported as asking the workers of the Grantley Adams International Airport to “protect it as a brand of excellence and world class hospitality.” However, all the talk about a branding exercise and creating a new slogan, and now asking persons to protect a brand is meaningless if the intent is not to be translated into a physical component and its use to assist in the development of Barbados.
If Barbados really is a brand as is constantly touted and not just a travel destination, isn’t it time for us to see hotels and other establishments in Barbados bearing the name the Barbados Brand. Isn’t it time that we see the translation from nebulous concepts and costly slogans which have nothing to do with reality in Barbados?
The Hilton brand was started in 1969. Commercial tourism in Barbados predates 1887 when the Crane Hotel was built. Isn’t it time to have a physical brand on the ground?
Perhaps the best action in term of branding would be to relieve the contract holders of the Hilton Hotel, and brand that along with several of the smaller hotels, B&B’s and guest houses as the Barbados Brand. This is where one can view the services of the Pom Marine coming into play by standardizing the training of these establishments under one umbrella which defines the physical brand. There would be no need for the government of Barbados to pay the Hilton Hotel for the use of its name.
To the Minister of Economic Affairs, does the signed contract between the government and the company which runs the Hilton Hotel align with the actions that you have taken? Needham’s Point Ltd. had 10 years to get their act together and now you have given them 10 more years to reap super profits off the backs of the taxpayers in Barbados. Clearly this decision was not well thought out and it is certainly not an expression of confidence in developing a physical Barbados brand hotel. You should have made the agreement null and void and together with the Minister of Tourism begin the conceptualization of the Barbados brand hotels. What occurred is not good stewardship.
To the Minister of Tourism, there is work to be done! When will you start?