Tourism Programming in Digital Era

Submitted by Stanton Carter – Brand Caribbean Inc


A shared article on a well-known social media platform on May 11/2022 respecting Barbados and the Caribbean tourism recovery progress brought back memories of a posting in the March 23 /2020 edition of Barbados Underground under the caption “We need a new game to promote Tourism”. Both articles offered opinionated suggestions on the development of various sectors of the tourism industry but neither one embodied a program for the way forward. Recommendations appeared to be relying on the induced demand strategy for generating visitor arrivals, but this approach might not produce desired results.

In the post pandemic period, digital technology will be the axle tourism officials will utilize to drive and operate tourism industries. Competition between Caribbean states for tourism receipts will be fierce. To survive, tourism dependent destinations will have to create and implement tourism master plans that are innovative and futuristic.

If a change is necessary, a business model should be put in place that (1) will modernize and keep destination programming abreast of industry technology and (2) develop and introduce diverse collaborative marketing campaigns that are consumer and travel trade oriented. Product distribution and tourism revenue generating initiatives should be incorporated in the program as they will be a Force Majeure in the new era tourism.


One of the non-publicised benefits Covid-19 provided Caribbean destinations dependent on tourism revenue, was the opportunity to review and upgrade their Modus Operandi. The chance to recalibrate and improve destination programming was apparently passed over as tourism authorities appeared to favour a return to pre covid marketing strategies.

The new model would necessitate upgrading and expanding current business strategies to include rebranding, monetizing tourism activities, product distribution, concentrating on community programming, and depending on resources, the establishment of a” National Destination Tour Company” with Internet Booking Engine (IBE) functionality.


1 – Reduced dependence on international tour operators, foreign carriers and their tour companies, wholesalers, and hotels reps for generating visitor traffic

2 – Building a better working relationship between Public and Private sectors in marketing and promoting destination

3 – Establishment of national destination tour company branches in overseas markets

4 – Generate tourism revenue and eliminate need for government subsidies

5 – Better management, control, and distribution of tourism product

6 -The building a tourism industry that is not susceptible to industry partners

“High and Low Season” marketing activities


The incorporation of a national tour company with a booking engine in a destination’s tourism authority infrastructure will not only level the playing field but lessen third-party involvement. It will reduce marketing and promotional expenditures, open new avenues for generating revenues, create employment opportunities, provide effective industry management, and year-round competitive programming. Moreover, it will generate visitor arrivals.

The internet booking engine concept is also not new. It is an updated, upgraded digitalized version of the reservation/sales function which appointed travel product wholesalers in overseas markets performed for Caribbean destinations in the 1960-1970’s prior to the evolution of tour companies. The booking engine would enable direct destination bookings and revenue earned remains in country.

There is also the precedent of the successful and productive use of the above-type business model in support of a popular Caribbean Island for approximately 30 years. Some tangible destination project benefits include (a) a dedicated airline service, (b) premium marketing campaigns, (c) an out of country licensed sales facility, (d) affordable tourism/hospitality holiday packages, and (e) excellent working relationships with international airlines, travel trade professionals and tour operators. Estimated arrivals at this destination in 2022, approximately 2.5 million visitors.

If Caribbean destinations are seeking solutions for a robust recovery of their tourism industries, an adaptation of this model could be the resolve.


Most Caribbean destinations experienced major tourism revenue losses due to Covid-19. To attempt to rebuild tourism industries in the post pandemic era, programmers will have to create and offer value laden affordable holiday packages “chock-a-block with authentic enjoyable experiences” that are superior to other programs in the marketplace.

To enlighten persons not familiar with tourism programming, the following is a draft blueprint of a diverse collaborative master plan that could be utilized by any Caribbean destination.


1 – Tourism and Hotel Association officials should convene a meeting to discuss the creation of a Public – Private Sector Collaborative “Sweet Fuh So Holiday Program.”

2- Meeting participants should include Tourism and Hotel Association executives, local and international airlines, their tour companies, overseas and local tour operators, wholesalers, travel professionals and destination stakeholders. The probability of including cruise lines should be considered.

3-The appointment of a Special Marketing Task Force Committee to work on the rebuilding project.

4-The Holiday Package components, to mention a few, should include – Visitor Arrival Receptions, Airfares, Accommodation, Culinary & Gastronomy Outings, Entertainment, Water Sports, Exceptional Events, and other memorable Experiences, that would make the destination the paramount location for exciting year-round “Sweet Fuh So Holidays”.

5-Packkage amenities should be chosen by the Special Task Force Committee.

6-Destination Stakeholders should be a combination of Tourism and Hotel Association officials, hotels, tour companies, entertainers, restaurants, taxi drivers, water sports operators, artists, immigration, customs, and police departments.

7-Marketing strategies should utilize social media and traditional platforms

to target market Cultural, Foodies, Weddings and Honeymooners, Diaspora, Snowbirds, Millennials, LGBTQ2+, etc.

8-A Public Relations campaign should be launched to notify consumers the destination is open for business.

9-Training seminars should be conducted by destination’s overseas offices in respective markets to educate travel professionals in small groups of 25-30 on the new program.

10-Planned destination educational visitations for travel agents, overseas journalists, travel writers and travel press should be an integral part of the program.

11-The Holiday package should be available for immediate implementation in the event the pandemic comes to a quick end.

Not all the components of the tourism master plan are listed in this draft document. One such item involves “Incentives”. If incorporated in the program, a three-year platinum incentive promotional campaign could be developed that would enhance the destination’s brand globally.

As most Caribbean islands are airline dependent destinations, they will require air connectivity from carriers, preferably those who own and operate tour companies, to kick start their tourism industries. These partnerships could generate a variety of visitors – package holiday’s vacationers, F.I.T travellers, M.I.C.E, and Sports groups – that would result in better utilization of the destination’s hotel rooms inventory. Negotiating such support services is another feature of the plan.

Project success and results will depend upon a destination’s Private and Public sectors joint efforts to develop effective collaborative programming. Willingness to discard yesterday’s marketing techniques, in favour of utilizing innovative digital solutions, would make the recovery resilient. To facilitate planning and development of strategies for future master plans, Caribbean destinations should consider establishing permanent Private and Public sectors tourism marketing committees. In the digital era, the Caribbean needs to transition to the new technology or continue to experience declines in visitor arrivals.

BU Covid Dash – Economic Effect

In the business world there is the familiar quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. It simple terms it does not matter the policy implemented, it is the prevailing culture that will determine the degree of success.

The headline in today’s Sunday Sun Bookings Take a Hit was predicted in this space months ago. In our tourism source markets of UK, Canada and the USA there has been high penetration of COVID 19 vaccination of the population that has permitted a return to some since of ‘normalcy’. We observe people in those markets attending sports events, travelling in unrestricted numbers, dining and other pre Covid 19 activities.

While the developed world is moving ahead with finding ways to coexist with coronavirus, Barbados with an economy solely dependent on tourism continues to be engaged in analysis paralysis. Before the pandemic Barbados was a country up to its ‘wazoo’ in debt – easy access to credit at the household and government level, we have developed an addiction to consumption and less to promoting a culture of excellence; high productivity, customer service, innovated and creative thinking to name a few.

It was easy to have predicted tourists – who have the final say where they want to spend – would want to relax at a destination where there is peace of mind. The current situation where Covid 19 numbers are surging for the world to see, we find ourselves in a pickle given the reluctance by government after government to mitigate risks associated with an over dependence on tourism. We the people are not entirely blameless, we have never felt the need to forcefully protest against lazy policies of successive government. The blogmaster buys into the position ‘people deserve the government they get‘.

After more than a decade in the economic doldrum and Barbadians described as suffering from economic fatigue, we are also being described as suffering from Covid 19 fatigue. The effect of the two ‘afflictions’ do not augur well for the future. The reality is that people must adapt to the environment in which they have to exist. If we want to enjoy the benefits (earning hard currency) of being an idyllic, iconic destination we know what we have to do. If we want to engage in analysis paralysis and bellyache about Covid fatigue then suffer the consequences. What should be obvious is that this stage of the game, we cannot pivot to replace the direct and indirect contribution to GDP in the short term. That boat has sailed.

Here is he latest BU Covid 19 Dashboard prepared by Lyall Small.

Attached are 2 charts for last week. We appear to be at a point where the cases per day have been fluctuating around 300 for nearly 2 weeks now. This suggests to me that there has not been an explosive growth in cases over that period and that there is therefore a reasonable chance that we could be nearing a plateau and then a decrease in cases. However, it can go any way and we all should do our individual parts in scrupulously adhering to the protocols, using our common sense and taking the vaccine – Lyall Small

A Heather Cole Column – Where is the Vision for Tourism?

Lisa Cummins, Minister of 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.

Related Links:

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
YearSpending ($)% of Exports
Barbados Tourism Statistics 1995-2021 | MacroTrends

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?

Open to Tourists – UK Green List, DELTA Variant …

The following was submitted by Joe Norton PR Executive of Impressions, a UK Digital company based in the UK with an objective of directing clicks/impressions to various websites.

The blogmaster is reluctant to post submissions which have a commercial objective. In this case the opening up of the country with an improved quarantine requirement although still aggressive makes this a timely submission. The virulent Delta variant is lose in the UK. The UK is one of Barbados’ main source market for tourist arrivals. Barbados was recently listed on UK’s Green List. – David, blogmaster

Barbados Set For £270 Million Cash Boost From British Tourists Following Inclusion On UK Green List 

Brits are set to splash out a whopping £270 million on trips to Barbados this year, new analysis has revealed. 

While many holidaymakers missed out on a summer break abroad last year, new data suggests more than 170,000 Brits will jet off to Barbados once travel restrictions are eased. 

The prediction by travel health experts Practio follows the news that the UK government has added Barbados to its green travel list meaning Brits won’t have to quarantine upon their return from holiday.

The forecast will be welcome news for businesses across the island with UK tourists set to start entering the country from Wednesday, June 30.

Analysing 10 years of historic Office for National Statistics data, looking at every single trip made out of the country by UK citizens, researchers at Practio have been able to forecast the holiday destinations set to benefit the most from reduced travel restrictions.

With traditionally popular European tourist destinations including Spain and France requiring Brits to quarantine for 10 days upon their return, Barbados is in line for a bumper summer with spend from British tourists set to top the forecasted £271,122,898.

On average, sun-starved Brits are expected to spend £1,524 per visit

Commenting on the research, Dr Jonas Nilsen, managing director and co-founder of Practio said:

“We wanted to pull this exhaustive research together to understand UK travel trends over the past ten years, but also to give us an idea of what this means for travel in the future. Travel was mostly out of the question in 2020 and many of us are hoping for its return later in 2021. By predicting future trends, we can better equip travellers and businesses that thrive off tourism by helping them to prepare for what’s to come and how they can make the most of Brits’ travel habits.

“It’s also been great to see some of the emerging trends and how travel is changing, we’re seeing the go-to destinations start to change with more money being spent in countries further afield, which should be a good sign for the future of the travel industry beyond the pandemic.”

The full research can be found and credited HERE:

Please let me know if you would like any clarification on any of the numbers or stats and if you have any particular questions or request for insight.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Cruising Opportunity

For readers who are unfamiliar with the name Saga Holidays, it is a British based tour operator with nearly seven decades of experience, specializing in offering over 50 year-old customers or travellers holidays and cruises worldwide. On 21st January the company announced that all clients must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least 14 days before departure on all holidays, tours and cruises, which entails having both a first and secondary jab. The decision was made after conducting a customer poll in which a reported ’95 per cent of regular Saga customers would support such a policy change’.

At first, many may consider this decision quite radical. In reality when they resume both long haul holidays and cruises in May, it is expected that the vast majority of Brits in this age group will have been inoculated against coronavirus anyway. Under the British Government’s plan, 15 million people designated as the fourth highest priority risk vaccination group, including all those in the UK over the age of 70 will have received at least their first shot by the middle of February.

Interestingly, Saga stated that their cruise crew would not need to be vaccinated before working on board and ‘that other protocols would be in place to protect staff until they’re able to receive inoculation’.

Saga Holiday offerings currently features Barbados as one of the three island destinations in their 14 night fly-holiday ‘Jewels of the Caribbean’ programme, which includes a 4 night stay at the Sugar Cane Club with a starting cost of GB Pounds 3,499 per person.

Purely, from a cruise perspective, while some will consider the return of these giant floating self-contained ‘hotels’ another threat to our land based tourism product, could our tourism planners and policymakers use this innovative Saga initiative and vaccination requirement to lure more ships back to our shores this winter? One thing for sure, we will need all the help we can get to restore both volume and connectivity of airlift to anything like previous levels. Home porting of at least one Saga ship would greatly assist that.

Their existing two ocean going ships may already be committed to 2021/22 itineraries, but in these challenging days with widespread scrapping or sale of relatively ‘new’ ships, just maybe there is an opportunity to launch a third vessel dedicated solely to ply the Caribbean for the upcoming winter. Many of our land based visitors have been happy to fly to and from Barbados on 20 plus year old aircraft, so ships of a similar age still have plenty of untapped potential, especially towards targeted consumers.

Despite all the obvious challenges the entire tourism industry currently faces, it will become abundantly clear over the next year that there are still people out there with vision, drive and the ability to see a much bigger picture and will use this time to exploit those opportunities that clearly still exist.

Adrian Loveridge Column – the Right Customer

While the words ‘Holiday safety more important than price’ may not bring immediate comfort to our tourism industry and policy planners, it just could be a critical deciding factor in the recovery process, as and when that materializes.

AllClear Travel Insurance which boasts on its website that it is the UK’s most trusted travel insurance provider, holding the coveted Trustpilot customer review 5-star (excellent) rating, recently concluded in a report that British holidaymakers value safety and quality over a cheap deal.

According to Louise Longman, Contributing Editor of the informative online travel trade source TravelMole, ‘the insurance company tracked consumer sentiment towards travel at each pivotal point of the last year – the lockdowns, the tiers and the response to the vaccines – to give forecasts for what the industry will look like in 2021’.

MaruBlue, the customer insights company, conducted the research online at intervals during 2020 – in June, July, November and December with each sample poll representing an audience of 2,000 UK adults.

The conclusions were that safety was a top priority, rather than price, with more than two in five respondents (44%) wanting to visit a country with a good Covid-19 record , while 36% wanting to have the best insurance cover possible, covering them for Covid -19, was top of the agenda.

Our tourism marketing people may wish to also take into account that the over 55 year olds (56%) were more likely to pick a destination based on its perceived Covid-19 safety record, verses 28% of those aged under 34 years.

Interestingly, AllClear found that of those UK adult ‘s surveyed, they were prepared to spend GB Pounds 1,334.82 more than they would usually on their holidays to ensure their trips would be as safe as possible. This rose to GB pounds 1,644.23 for those having pre-existing underlying health issues.

Following the news of a widely available vaccine, more than half of the respondents (55%) stated they would feel comfortable going on holiday again as travelling became a top priority for plans in 2021.

Almost one in two of the respondents believed that the Caribbean would be safe to visit within a year.

The factors that became more important to those considering booking an overseas holiday in the months ahead by percentages, included:

  • The risk of the country (UK) going back into lockdown (44%)
  • Social distancing on flights – not getting onto a packed plane (39%)
  • The state of the health service in the country visited (36%)
  • The prospect of having to go back into quarantine on return (30%)
  • Comfort that airports would be safe (29%)
  • Avoid using public transport (27%)
  • Good customer reviews online for the safety of the resort (26%)

While consumer polls like these cannot be totally adopted as a ‘holy grail’ for shaping strategies to aid the recovery of our tourism industry, they can offer insightful guidance and a powerful benchmark to ensure we are most cost-effectively reaching our target market.

Time to Open

Submitted by Petko

I wish to preface this by stating in no way am I affiliated with or have any financial interest in the tourism or travel industry, as I know what I write below will have people stating I have only written to push a personal financial agenda.

The time for Barbados to open her borders completely is now. By this I mean in particular the 2nd test and hotel quarantine policy of tourists and returning Barbadians has to be terminated. As well the mandatory Harrison Point isolation of any person testing positive for Sars-Cov2 virus should also be scrapped.

The coronavirus is endemic in Barbados, no wordsmithing such as clusters or West Coast or North Coast spread can deny this fact. In addition, I put forth that it has been endemic since March. Only a naïve person can believe that the virus has not been constantly circulating since it was first tested for in March. Barbados opened her borders in mid June and did not institute the second test of incoming persons until mid-October. If people have been found positive on the second test since October, it is only logical to surmise the same percentage of people were positive from June to October that were landing here. Hence the virus has always been here and circulating. The only thing that happened during this Christmas season is that a local Bajan was tested with the virus being detected. This was followed by the mass testing to find the 500+ positives we have now. It is common knowledge that from May to now the local population has barely been tested, there were days in June with 15 tests reported – from a population of 285,000 people. Testing only reached 60-120 per day when the testing of incoming passengers began.

Based on the above we can extrapolate that with a circulating virus the health care system at no time was over-whelmed. The fact is when you don’t test for the coronavirus you don’t find the coronavirus as 98% of people who “catch” it suffer at most a common cold and thus you wouldn’t even know it existed. Currently we see that from the 560+ current cases not a single person is in serious condition. From 200 positive prisoners we see that 95% are asymptomatic. We have 1 year of data, we know that people over the age of 80 are vulnerable to this as they are to a flu – these people need protection and caution, but the 30 year old Sea-doo operator is at zero risk to Sars-Cov2.

The argument some have of shutting the borders is to be polite, pure nonsense. I find it quite hypocritical when people accuse incoming persons of bringing and spreading the “dreaded” virus. Consequently, these same people are quite happy to receive the hard currency these people bring, the pharmaceutical supplies, the TV’s and laptops and the Toyota Hilux’s that a modern society requires. We have always lived in a globalized world which trades in goods, knowledge and disease – this is the human condition.

There is no finger pointing here, the fact is with all the protocols on incoming passengers, the coronavirus is here and has been here. Even if 100% of humanity was vaccinated for this virus it will still exist as the vaccines are not eliminating the virus but making its care manageable. Manageable is the key word here. Barbados needs to manage the situation in a rational way that considers the positives and negatives of every action.

Tourism is the lifeblood of the nation; it will be the lifeblood in 100 years. Barbados nor any country in the Caribbean is going to start manufacturing pickup trucks or OLED TV’s – the core competency is the tourism product which arose from the glorious weather that this region is blessed with. We should be championing it rather than disparaging it, as some do. Currently Barbados is the only country in the region which requires the 2nd test in-country with the threat of going into isolation. What has this resulted in?

Well, the coronavirus is here and is not going anywhere, even post-vaccine. Thus, a ZERO Covid policy is sheer folly and unscientific. Next it has resulted in a drop of 95% to the tourism product resulting in up to 40% unemployment as well as a government stressed to its financial borrowing limits. Currently Barbados is receiving 350 incoming passengers per day on 4 major international flights. A quick look at our neighbours shows a different picture.

Montego Bay is handling 33 flights per day, Aruba has 19 flights daily, Cancun has 100 and Nassau 16. These locations require either no test of any kind or a negative PCR test 3-5 days old and nothing else. Yes, these countries have “cases” but so does Barbados. The difference is these countries are managing the situation and keeping their economy and tourism lifeblood functional. Travellers will put up with bringing a negative PCR test (for now – in 2 months when the entire USA has immunity do not expect Americans choosing destinations requiring tests) and they are showing it with their travel to these destinations. There is also the threat that once a long-time visitor to Barbados has tried out another destination such as Aruba, they may never come back here.

The BLP unfortunately painted itself into a corner with an unrealistic goal and message of Zero Covid. They now have the opportunity to exit this strategy and embrace that of managing the disease as well as the tourism product. I have no doubt that both can be done at an exceptional level in Barbados. Time is of the essence and the 2021 Winter tourist season is not done yet. February and March provide the traditional breaks in the source markets of the UK, USA and Canada. Literally tens of thousands of people are ready to travel to the Caribbean and if Barbados keeps its onerous and unproductive 2nd test none of these people will grace our shores. Thousands could be put back into employment, the economy would begin its rebound and we would be moving forward.

Pursuing the 2nd test strategy will only result in Barbados staying in its current sclerotic state. PM Mottley has been adamant in Barbadians should embrace change, well the BLP and herself needs to now do the same. The old policy did not and could not work, pivot and manage and let Barbados get back on her feet in 2021.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism Goose Must be Fed

In view of the most recent dramatic changes, due to Covid -19 developments, both at home and overseas, is it time to think again about lifting some, if not all of the taxes and levies imposed on our tourism industry, at least until there is some evidence of recovery?

It must be obvious by now that many of our tourism businesses are not going to survive a further prolonged period without some sort of meaningful inducement or relief. Despite all the challenges to the private sector in terms of employment there still remains a large number of salaried people who apparently have little or no possibility of losing their jobs or experiencing lower incomes or reduced working hours, notably public workers.

A reduction in airline taxes was promised several months ago, but so far the secondary added US$35 for flights within Caricom and US$70 for all other destinations is still applied.

A bevy of ‘replacement’ airlines were canvassed and persuaded to introduce Barbados flights on the basis of these assurances, which only subsequently to led to a reduction of planned services, due to the still high intra-Caribbean fares and reduced demand.

Long haul airlines have launched attractive sale prices for early 2021 which means that you can fly from London to Barbados for as little as GB Pounds 324 return for the lowest economy class ticket, but still well over half of that figure is taken up in Government taxes.

As and when travel restrictions are lifted in the United Kingdom and other major markets, inevitably there will be pent up demand, but clearly this is going to be price driven, at least during the initial booking stages.

Of course, Government desperately needs revenue to pay for what many consider a massive oversized civil service, plus its loan and other obligations, but most of us realize that it will be printing money for years to come to cover the true cost of the pandemic. Surely it is better to ensure that our remaining tourism industry is in a fit state to be sufficiently operational when recovery starts to take place?

It is not of course the tourism players who benefit from the lowering or removal of VAT, room and other levies, but the actual consumer.

Some of our hotels and other accommodation offerings have been very proactive with promoting staycations, but is that going to be enough to pay their bills, at least for the next six months?

Ultimately, any Government can only extract taxes in so many ways.

If that means the ultimate point- of-sale cost ceases to be globally competitive, then if those taxes cannot be collected from locals or overseas visitors, it will be forced to find alternative borrowing sources.

Adrian Loveridge Column – A Time for Change

After writing this column, almost religiously, every week for over ten years and a tourism specific published contribution for over two decades , the almost overwhelming feeling -under the current pandemic situation with a severe lack of good news -is frankly just to give in and stop until meaningful recovery is in clear sight.

But this would of course be defeatist and pander to an increasingly vocal minority that has for some time preached that we, as a country, have become too dependent on a single sector, while albeit at the same time, proffering no viable alternative.

In their own way though, they have a point and perhaps successive Governments have not placed sufficient priority into ensuring that all other arms of our economy were carried along by tourism and its incredible contribution to the building of our country.

Has the time finally come to better evaluate exactly how we can practically involve more people, goods and services to redress this disproportionate imbalance?

Without wishing to harp on what may appear a microscopic and at first perceived inconsequential tiny issue, I would like to return to the subject of serving imported bottled water at Government convened media conferences, which for me highlighted the need to dramatically increase the use of local products where practical.

During my nearly 60 years involved in tourism, what has stood out above all other observations, from the time while working as a humble demi-chef du rang or trainee waiter in one of Britain’s oldest hotels, to finally fulfilling a lifetimes dream into co-owning and managing a boutique hotel, was attention to detail.

A simple example is that certainly in my experience working across more than 70 countries, you could often tell if a particular hotel had a female manager, just by the display of fresh flowers in public places of the property like washrooms. This is not in anyway intended to be sexiest, just that a good manager instinctively knows what impresses their guests of any gender or disposition.

In our very early days on Barbados, I readily accepted that my wife would be a much better hotel manager than I could ever be, in almost every respect. Her degree of attention to detail, empathy to staff and guests, was way above anything that I could ever consistently achieve and it was born-out by the highest possible level of those returning to stay.

And currently, whatever your political leanings or gender preferences, is it now finally the time for our current national leader, together with her team to take the bold step in ensuring there are more tangible mutually advantageous partnerships between all sectors of our economy and reduce the reliance on foreign exchange requirements?

Or do we choose to ignore, during this uniquely challenging period in our history, by failing to address the obvious disparity between our largest industry and its need for goods, services and supplies?

Adrian Loveridge Column – Wish List for 2021

Traditionally, for years this period between Christmas and New Year the United Kingdom normally experiences the largest level of holiday bookings than at any other time annually. Not this year of course, with our tourism policymakers and planners left to contemplate, what, if anything they can do to bridge the enormous void of visitor arrivals.

It is an unprecedented situation and for those who stand on the side and criticize, proffering what they think could be done, are only frankly second guessing a clearly almost impossible and unpredictable scenario.

What I understand the current guardians of our industry are successfully doing is maintaining the highest possible destination visibility with initiatives like the Welcome Stamp, visits by travel writers, travel agents and the incredible centenarian, Captain Sir Tom Moore, all naturally under carefully managed pandemic compliant conditions.

While, it may seem very optimistic given the current circumstances, I am still going to have a wish list for 2021.

As we emerge from the pandemic, there will be opportunities and some of these may come from those airlines that have survived, downsized and retired their larger, less fuel efficient aircraft. New aircraft like the incredible Airbus A321XLR will come into service and enable long haul routes from various European cities to operate planes which carry around 200 passengers, economically on non-stop services to the Caribbean.

Routes like Dublin or Belfast to Barbados then become less of a risk and given a massive price advantage by not having APD (Advanced Passenger Duty) imposed on the fares, saving at least UK Pounds 80 per passenger in the case of Northern Ireland.

Locally, I believe that a great more could be done with developing smart partnerships between all sectors across tourism and those companies who supply them together with our seemingly reluctant banking sector. As one of the persons deeply involved in creating the first fully functional small hotel alliance, it has been hugely disappointing not to witness more co-operation in this sub-sector, by developing joint promotional initiatives and driving cost savings through collaboration.

And as the cruise industry finally resumes sailings from the Caribbean, perhaps not until the very latter part of 2021, let us look objectively at exactly where we can truly benefit from this sector and justify the investment we have already placed in it.

As always, my thoughts go out to all the dedicated tourism workers and managers that are still employed and have sacrificed their quality family time over this festive period, to give our cherished visitors that holiday of a lifetime.


Adrian Loveridge Column – Simply the Beast Game in Town

As we come to the end of another year, for many around the world, probably the most unpredictable of their entire lives, it is perhaps time to reflect, while trying to make sense and possibly attempt to plan for the future.

Even after a working lifetime involved in tourism, like so many others, we simply are not sufficiently qualified to proffer potential solutions post pandemic, but there are past experiences which tell us that until ‘we’ as a nation find any viable alternatives, that it will largely remain the ‘only game in town’.

Looking back 32 years, we can only admit to being extremely naïve when purchasing a closed semi-derelict small hotel on what was perhaps considered then, as one of the less desirable coastlines of the island.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course and despite all the odds including a barrage of bureaucracy (that continues to exist three decades later), uncooperative banks, who often simply did not understand what it takes to make businesses work, merchant traders and suppliers not willing to take any credit risks, we grew the business while contributing around $50 million to the local economy, directly or indirectly.

During that time, we employed people, paid their NIS and met every single Government tax and imposition, despite still being owed tens of thousands of confirmed VAT refunds, dating back from as late as 2013.

Was it easy? Absolutely not!

But if you have a vision that you share with a partner, believe in what you are doing and preparing to work 17 hours a day, seven days a week, then ‘success’, in whatever form you consider that word applicable, is possible.

As we now look on under the new owners and their extensive commitment to massive renovations, which have been underway for weeks, we have no doubt they will take the former Peach and Quiet to another level and build on any ‘success’ that we might have achieved in the past.

Clearly acceptable standards and guest expectations change over the years and our former small hotel reaching almost 50 years since construction, desperately needed upgrading.

The new owners with three generations of proven hand-on hotel ownership and management share our vision and have the sheer determination to ensure the re-named property once again reaches the award winning boutique hotel status we enjoyed.

Personally I have no doubt that our tourism sector will rebound and that we will learn valuable lessons from the pandemic.

What will be absolutely critical to its recovery is that those who have the vision and drive to invest in times like this are given all the support and encouragement to ensure this happens.

It is time for some of our banks to revisit their purpose and for our army of civil servants to carefully evaluate how they can contribute to the national interest.

From our personal experience, there are always notable exceptions to the ‘norm’ and our sincere thanks go out to the incredibly positive response we received from all involved recently at the Central Bank of Barbados.

Adrian Loveridge Column – We Undervalue Contributions by Sector Players

Just a week away from celebrating our 54th year of independence and probably the very last year that any citizen will be recognized for their outstanding national contribution locally, by being granted (Order of Barbados) Knight (KA) or Dame (DA) status, after Government has decided to remove Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and presumably her representative here.

Considering the massive transformational effect tourism has made in the development of the country over the last five decades, some may find it surprising that not a single person within the industry, over that period, has been sufficiently identified and chosen to receive the highest honour, unlike in some other neighbouring islands.

Perhaps it reflects the often expressed general cynicism directed at the sector, that each and every hotelier is a money grabbing, subsidy opportunist, extracting limitless concessions and who expects Government to constantly bail them out, even when even tiniest challenge is put in their way.

While this may be vaguely true for a tiny number of chosen few, as a former small hotelier, operating for over 25 years, I can tell you that perception is so far from reality that it bears absolutely no actual creditability at all, for the vast majority of us.

I graphically recall our very first attempt to bring in ‘duty-free’ a special paint for extreme salt spray exposed surfaces. The duties and charges levied locally were more than twice the cost of the goods and shipping. Despite that, we paid the taxes in full, only to discover when collecting the paint from a ‘secure’ customs bond, that more than a third of the product had been stolen. When then asking if we could amend our duty payment to the revised amount of goods received, we were told NO and that we had to apply for a refund which in the words of the then comptroller, could take up to between one and two years.

After, that early experience, we virtually gave up on even going through the motions of attempting to buy ‘duty-free’ items for the hotel, as the barrage of obstacles placed in our way, were just too tedious and mentally overpowering to surmount.

Returning to the point of this column, I hope that one day that some of the very many dedicated professionals, at every level, will be recognised for their tireless efforts, once again.  Not limited to only those promoting Barbados tourism, but fully embracing everyone who provides personal service delivery, to each and every guest.

As and when the pandemic issue is resolved, it is going to be even more critical to the sector’s recovery that ‘we’ provide the very best welcome to both returning and first time visitors. As a country, when we continually fail to value the selfless contribution made by so many, we are losing track and the purpose of what makes tourism and a destination successful.



Adrian Loveridge Column – Getting Ready to Welcome More UK Travellers

The decision made by Virgin Atlantic to re-position their Barbados flights to Heathrow from Gatwick and the recent announcement by British Airways that they will restore a daily flight from London’s first airport from 17th October is a very positive move towards any form of tourism arrival normality from the United Kingdom to our shores, in more ways than one.

The airport is currently undergoing trials involving ‘three systems of outbound Covid-19 testing including a nasal or throat swab test which provides results in 30 minutes, a saliva test which gives a visual result in 10 minutes and a self- administered test that works within 30 seconds’.

These are in addition to the airport’s paid-for inbound testing facility, which is awaiting British Government’s clearance.

According to an airport spokesperson ‘the long-term aim of the trial is to understand whether these tests could be quickly and efficiently conducted on large numbers of people outside of a laboratory setting and to ensure they are accurate enough to be delivered in an airport environment’.

Heathrow’s Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye added ‘if we can find a test that is accurate, gets results within a matter of minutes, is cost-effective and gets the government green light, we could have the potential to introduce wide-scale testing at the airport’.

Another major plus for Heathrow is the rapidly improving train links.

Our policymakers often overlook that for the vast majority of our visitors, their journey does not start at the airport. They have to get there first, often leaving home close to the dead-of-night to allow for reasonable check-in and security time, in many cases.

While the massive Crossrail project has been further delayed, new type 345 trains with nine carriages that are fully air-conditioned are already fully operational from all the functioning Heathrow terminals, with up to 9 trains per hour to/from Central London and major connecting train terminals and beyond.

The increased capacity, frequency and enhanced ventilation will substantially improve the possibility of effective social distancing and further reduce the fear of virus infection.

A third compelling reason why Heathrow outshines way above other British airports is connectivity, both from an internal domestic UK and worldwide perspective.

Certainly up until the end of 2019, according to OAG (Official Airline Guide), a leading global travel data provider, the Heathrow mega hub was the world’s most internationally connected airport for the third straight year.

‘On the busiest day in aviation during that year an incredible 65,000 connections were possible within a six hour window’.

Frankfurt was second, followed by Chicago O’Hare, Amsterdam and Munich, in that order.

This gives us the strongest possibility of enticing continental Europeans onto seamless connections to both British Airways B777 -200 and Virgin Atlantic’s B787-9 Dreamliner nonstop flights to Barbados.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Over to You Minister Lisa Cummins

Minister of Tourism Lisa Cummins

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the British Government’s Eat Out to Help Out promotion that initially was being offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3rd through to the 31st August.

Almost a week before ‘last orders’ under the offer is due to expire, over 64 million meals have already been served at more than 50,000 restaurants, pubs and other eating establishments across the United Kingdom.

So far, there have been 34 million searches by 13 million unique users on the official Eat Out to Help Out restaurant finder which uses postcodes to locate participating eateries in any given area.

Not surprisingly, many in the catering industry and trade associations are now calling for a further one month extension, taking it through September, before the employee furlough subsidy is scheduled to end in October.

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UK Hospitality, which represents pubs and restaurants throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stated ‘the scheme has been a huge success for the sector. Our members have been reporting a very-welcome boost in trade, when it was needed most’. Adding ‘the scheme has not just benefited businesses commercially it appears to have really boosted consumer confidence as well, which is just as important’.

While the following observations may go down badly in certain circles, we seem to be constantly reading various utterings about the need to restructure the entire tourism industry on Barbados. Yet few, if any, policies appear to have been put in place to stimulate the sector, in which ‘we’ place so much reliance on now? I can only conclude that those proffering advice on restructuring do not really understand our industry and their immediate needs, which could result in a devastating consequence for any hope of its survival in the short to middle term.

Restructuring does not take place overnight in any sector and in our case, what does it really mean anyway?

Demolishing scores of existing hotels, villas, apartments and the hundreds of extra rooms created by small independent owners that have been persuaded to provide them for rental, through companies like Airbnb?

And what about the various proposed new-build accommodation projects that have yet to show significant progress?

This will be my final impassioned plea to Government to consider launching a national domestic tourism initiative that would be supported, not just by the tourism partners, but by all elements of the private sector that have a vested interest, including food and beverage suppliers, wholesalers and financial service providers that embraced credit and debit card issuers.

Even a low-cost ‘ad’ campaign through local social media and radio might just make a significant enough difference to keeping some of our ‘make or break’ restaurants open and staff employed. Failing to introduce such an incentive into Barbados later than September will run the plausible risk that many of our tourism entities will simply not survive intact until there are real signs of fiscal recovery later this year or into 2021.

Otherwise the danger is that the much vaunted discussion on restructuring will quickly turn into a major plan for possible rebuilding, and that could realistically take decades.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Cooking the Golden Goose

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.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Time for Rethink

By the end of this month the British Government will have a somewhat more accurate idea of just how successful their Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been in sustaining businesses and protecting employment.

From 3rd until 31st August on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (traditionally the quieter dining days), Brits can get a 50 per cent discount, up to a maximum of GB Pounds 10 per person, when you eat-in at one of the over 83,000 restaurants that have so far registered.

Usage does not require a voucher, can be used as many times as you like and is combinable with other available offers and discounts.

There is no minimum spend.

The discount cannot be claimed on alcoholic drinks or service charges and is automatically available at all participating establishments, which include restaurants, cafes, pubs, food halls, work and school canteens, who in-turn are reimbursed by the Government.

Consumers can easily find those that have already signed-up, within a 5 mile radius of their residence, simply by entering their postcode.

The United Kingdom HM Revenue and Customs stated that it had received over 10.5 million claims under the scheme up until 9th August with the average claim for around GB Pounds 5, which would until this date, bring the cost of this initiative to around GB Pounds 50 million.

British Chancellor Rishi Sunak reported ‘the scheme has served a huge 25 per cent increase in people going out’ and that GB Pounds 500 million has been put aside to pick up the bills for diners who patronize restaurants during the 13 eligible days in August.

This following the slashing of VAT rates from 20 to 5 per cent for all hospitality and tourism businesses until 12th January 2021.

Over 90 of the leading restaurant chains throughout the UK have signed up to offer this deal with most of the major brand names, applying substantial resources to ensure public awareness.

Will Beckett, co-founder of the Hawksmoor steakhouse group reported ‘that six of his restaurants had received a combined 15,000 bookings for the 13 days’ period.

Our policymakers have resisted so far, any obvious attempt to stimulate domestic tourism, for whatever reason.

Perhaps it is time to rethink this approach?

September, ‘normally’ one of the most challenging months of the year is just days away, while we continue to experience an increasing number of our restaurants announcing permanent closure.

For many of them it is truly heartbreaking, having spent in some cases decades, building their business.

From feedback, those closing mostly admit they can no longer sustain survival locally, citing the inability to continue paying rent, utility bills, land taxes or await further delays in the repayment of outstanding VAT refunds.

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.

Adrian Loveridge Column – 911 Response

While a handful of hotels on Barbados have been very proactive in reaching out to locals and residents for Staycation options at attractive rates, despite some recent discussion, there appears no national initiative driving this important tactic to help the path of tourism recovery.

Perhaps equally discouraging is that our banks and financial institutions seem to be unaware of the potential to grow credit and debit card usage by offering enhanced cash back incentives to promote local tourism, which in themselves are self-funding.

What is abundantly obvious is that many would-be overseas visitors are delaying future booking, until some sort of normality returns to definite flight possibilities, rather than again risk going through the prolonged refund process that thousands are still trying to extract for previously confirmed flights and holidays.

Obviously, it is largely out of our control to secure airlift in the current ever changing circumstances from traditional markets, until infection rates are significantly reduced or eliminated, and the general public has the confidence to travel again.

The LIAT debacle has virtually ruled out welcoming back any possible early return of significant numbers of intra Caribbean visitors, despite the relatively low risk of Covid-19 spread within the region.

Many also find it difficult to understand how Governments, over decades, have ploughed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into supporting the airline, only now to see it liquidated with all the consequences that brings to those involved.

Therefore simply put, perhaps the only meaningful source of business which presently remains, is the domestic market. It is not just about our accommodation providers, but across the entire sector.

From my feedback, people are questioning if Government sincerely wishes to avoid further closures of tourism partners and enable these businesses to re-open and protect employment, that the administration has to play their part in removing room levies and VAT (value added tax), at least in the short term.

The British Government obviously considered this policy was critical to aiding the hospitality industry recovery in the United Kingdom by announcing days ago the lowering of the VAT rate from 20 to 5 per cent until January 2021on restaurants, pubs and other leisure outlets and introduction of specially priced meals, rather like our 19 year old re-DISCOVER initiative.

Ultimately there are so many ways Government can wrest taxes and if those businesses remain closed and unable to meet their financial obligations, then clearly, they cannot contribute to national recovery.

While, thankfully, one closed restaurant was recently re-opened, under new ownership, no mention has been made of several others that have already been forced to close their doors ‘indefinitely’, resulting in the loss of dozens of jobs. This closure trend will inevitably continue unless some corrective measures are put into place urgently.

Over the last years ‘we’ have spent a fortune rightly boasting we are the culinary Capital of the Caribbean.  Let us now, not lose this hard earned reputation, simply by failing to respond to the immediate needs of those who have made it possible.

Marketing for Hoteliers on Small Islands

Andrew Nehaul

Submitted by Andrew Nehaul

As the covid-19 outbreak begins to subside and countries start to reopen, the big questions for hoteliers on island destinations are:


  1. How will my clients get to the destination? Which airlines will survive and continue to fly and under what conditions?
  2. News reports state that clients in major countries no longer trust travel agents/tour operators to book their holidays as many did not or would not repay deposits and payments made by consumers.

The answer to the first is simply to wait and see as many large airlines are in deep financial crisis.

However if I were an hotelier I would take a strategic approach and to the second try to get as many clients as possible to book directly with me when the airlines begin to fly. Below are some suggestions.

Ensure that your website is updated with large and beautiful pictures of my property and make sure that clients can book and pay online without problems. Moreover, in the first year I would offer a convenient and liberal approach to booking changes and/or cancellations. If your website is not modern, I would suggest getting a new one. Today you can get this done for not more than USD 500. Follow the trends and see to it that your site is picturesque, choose a server that is 99.9% reliable and please check constantly for any broken links.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having designed many websites with over 280 pages per site I am knowledgeable of what is necessary and where one can find the best IT companies to produce them. In addition, sites must be created for easy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as this is far cheaper than Pay per click (PPC) marketing.

Social media
Social media is the cheapest form of marketing today and should be used extensively. A great way to attract interest is short stories, videos, news of your hotel or destination, interesting recipes, competitions etc The more you post, the better it is for you.

Facebook: I would see to it that my Facebook page is relevant and also use data from my old hotel registration cards and set up a Facebook advertising account to target my potential clientele.

Instagram: The same policy as Facebook but also put out as many pictures of the hotel as possible interlaced with pictures of the destination and local tourism related hashtags to influence people to my pages.

Note that this is an excellent time for young entrepreneurs who are wizards with social media to create a business by selling their services to the hotel industry. All they need is a smart phone.

Clients who are researching travel and come across your hotel, want to contact the hotel in advance with any questions they may have. PLEASE! Do not only list a reservation email. See to it that you have another email for queries and ensure that you reply promptly to their mails. The best is to use Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp or other video services. They are free and in this time of clients wanting answers immediately, you will win. A client sitting in their office or at home in Manhattan, Boston, London or Stuttgart and being able to contact you immediately online at no cost – is GOLD.

The most frustrating thing about many small hotels is that some of them never put prices on their site but want clients to book anyhow. If you would put yourself in a client’s shoes, you then would ask yourself if you would do this. If not you, why them?

When it comes to prices, forget your competition and do what is best for you. Put your prices out and make creative offers by adding consumer value to your prices. For example if clients book directly, you can offer them for example – return airport transfers or a 3 course dinner or an island tour or a round of golf. In the slow months offer more.

Create a niche
If you do a search for Barbados Hotels on Google, Tripadvisor and lists the 10 top hotels in Barbados or the best hotels in Barbados or all inclusive hotels in Barbados. If you are too small to rate in these categories why not create your own niche with a website title like “The best personal service – Barbados” or “On the best beach in Barbados” or “Best value in Barbados” or “Stay & play,  sea & sun –  Barbados” or “Best Barbados holiday” or “Best couples hotel – Barbados” or “More than just a family hotel – Barbados” or “Singles welcome – Barbados” or “Best honeymoon hotel – Barbados” .

Plant a flower for Barbados! Stay with us and bring seeds from your favourite flower and plant them. We will put your name on a plaque, nurture the plant and send you pictures as it grows. The island will love it and you can do a small part for the environment.  When you return, we will add your picture with the flower to our Facebook page.

Clients from Europe who travel to the Caribbean usually awake early as they have not acclimatized as yet since as the Caribbean is 5 to 6 hours behind their home time.  In most cases the hotel restaurants open from 7 am. A well appreciated gesture is to offer coffee/tea and freshly baked local pastries from 5 am in the lobby.

Finally, training! Take this opportunity to train your staff to ensure that they provide 110% service for clients. The next few months/years will be tough and it is important that guests not only feel welcome at your hotel but feel a bond to the hotel and staff.

Once a client books, keep in touch. Make them feel that they are important to you.

Be warned though. Ask before sending anything. One hotel learned the hard way after they sent a postcard to Mr & Mrs Smith thanking them for their stay that Mrs Smith knew nothing about the trip. It turned out that it was not the wife who travelled but the secretary!

Adrian Loveridge Column – A Time to Work Together

If there has ever been a time when tourism partners sharing the same sub-sector have needed to work together in the national recovery interest, it is now!

A couple of weeks ago I suggested to our national marketing agency that a short video be produced from the existing library of incredible images highlighting our amazing choice of restaurants and dining options.

The ‘theme’ would be ‘Did you miss us?’

The video could be aired, without any significant cost, through all available social media outlets and travel partners, to remind both locals, second home owners, together with returning visitors of what we have been capable of providing, year after year, under ‘normal’ circumstances.

A similar exercise may easily be done with our car rental suppliers without necessarily giving prominence to the merits of any particular company.

Most renters do not, of course, base their booking decision on the make or model of vehicle, but what the car can offer them in flexibility to explore the island, visit attractions, activities and sample the myriad of eating out choices and equally important, providing added value and experiences.

Several years ago we persuaded, for the first time ever, three of the largest villa rental agencies to jointly create a full page ‘ad’ that was placed in one of the leading travel magazines. The individual cost to each company for exclusive sole participation was difficult to justify, but collectively sharing the expense three ways, made it a whole different story, giving readers previously unknown choices, as whom to contact and search for their chosen property.

While highly targeted strictly print advertisements have fallen out of favour against the more recent electronic media alternatives, I still believe it can play a critical part in overall marketing, especially if carefully monitored for response and cost-effectiveness.

We also used this concept to launch the first fully functional small hotel group called Barbados Treasures. Each of the original five member hotels offered an identically priced package that included reduced rate car rental, a choice of attractions and an out-of-hotel dinner option. It became one of the best-selling offers available at that time and significantly increased average occupancy in each of the partner properties.

There are countless other examples of why working together makes economic sense, while building awareness of the destination and growing each participating business. It just takes resolve and commitment from sufficient big-picture people with a common objective to make the idea work.

One thing for sure, as tourism recovery inevitably takes place, despite the naysaying utterings of the pundits and doubters, every industry provider will be vying to seek out what they perceive as their fair market share. They will then be faced with attempts to do this alone in isolation, or learning to work as a team, to greatly increase the likelihood of overall success.

Creating a New Lure for Tourism?


Submitted by Andrew Nehaul

We all know the story of Sam Lord. The world’s second oldest known con artist. The first one was William Chaloner (1650 – 1699): A serial counterfeiter and confidence trickster proven guilty by Sir Isaac Newton.

Below is a shortened version of his story.
Samuel Hall Lord, also called “Sam Lord” (1778 – 5 November 1844) was one of the most famous buccaneers on the island of Barbados. Sam Lord as he was usually known, amassed great wealth for his castle-mansion in Barbados. He did this through the direct plundering of ships stranded in the coral reefs just off the coast of his estate.

According to legend, Sam Lord would hang lanterns high in the coconut trees around his estate. Passing ships far out at sea would think it was the port city of Bridgetown and would sail towards the reef in the area, leading them to wreck their ships. Sam Lord would then board the ships and keep the riches for his castle, which stood in the parish of Saint Philip. [Source Wikipedia]

More specific info here:

I submit that we can we take this historical fact and expand upon it. In other words why not create a viable interest in travelling to Barbados to find Sam Lord’s treasure?

We can stimulate attention on social media by suggesting that the treasure has never been found and as the old castle is being renovated, now is the time to come and explore the island and look for it before it disappears. An app can be designed that gives clues to the treasure and visitors can travel around the island looking for it. On downloading and registering, the app will give participants a clue which will give directions to a possible location. When they find this location, the site will have a GPS locator which will register in the app and will then unlock a new clue. Note that the person must stand exactly in a specific location to get the app to unlock.

After the first location is registered it gives the participants a souvenir or drink (sponsored). To cut a long story short, the clues should be tough and the maximum number of clues should be no more than 10. The prize (treasure) should be USD 25.000 (any eventual taxes to be paid by the participants). Once found, the next time that it is run, the prize should be USD 35.000. The time after USD 45.000 etc

Some things to consider.

No other island had Sam Lord. As he was unique to Barbados. Let us use him to our benefit.

As this will be based on wideband usage, a smart phone will be necessary and there will be a fee to register. This fee will include a local SIM card with XXX data.

A sponsored digital map should be created (open for all) showing locations of bars, rum shops, restaurants in each parish that provide food/drink, clean restrooms, parking and free WiFi. These locations should be encouraged to niche what they offer clients. For example 3 of them may specialize on fish/seafood. 3 others on local Bajan food with panache while others on local sweets and/or bakery products.

Spin off high end souvenirs with a Sam Lord’s treasure logo should be created like – brass lanterns, smart phone cases, golf head covers, ceramic place settings etc

I am certain that the island has many creative persons who can run with this and make the concept even better.

Recovery Project to Support Tourism Industry

Submitted by Stanton Carter, Brand Caribbean Inc

I usually enjoy reading Adrian Loveridge’s column but respectfully did not see any substantive suggestions for a new game to support the Tourism industry in the March 23, 2020 posting.

To cut to the chase, the reference to and comments about the September 11th, 2001 disaster, the airlift dependency, the suspended cruise ship sailings, the banks’ credit card incentives and speculation that the resident population could generate opportunities for domestic tourism may have helped to illustrate the economic challenges Barbados could face post Covid-19 but the statements in my opinion appeared to be more reactive than proactive.

What was noticeably missing from the article was the absence of a plan to rebuild and sustain the island’s tourism industry post Covid-19. As no mention was made of a recovery program, presumably expectations are that the virus will “miraculously” disappear and it will be business as usual. Unfortunately, the Caribbean Association of Banks’ statement – “It will no longer be business as usual for the foreseeable future” could be a true indicator of what is in store for the island.

If a new game is required to support the Tourism industry, it will necessitate a combined effort between the Private and Public sectors. These two organizations collaborated before to advance the island’s tourism industry and there is no reason why in unprecedented times they could not join forces again. Perhaps they need to be reminded, they are both working to achieve similar benefits for the destination and that a combination of financial and manpower resources, expertise, and industry contacts could help to sustain and restore tourism to new and greater visitor arrivals levels the island ever experienced.

Any attempt to try to return to a state of normality after Covid-19, will involve dramatic changes. Operating on the premise that if we build, re-brand and upgrade facilities visitors will come, will no longer be the industry’s acceptable standard. The new normal for the Tourism industry will depend significantly on

IT and digital technology. The soft sell approach for marketing and promoting Barbados as a holiday destination will have to be expanded to include social media platforms.

Competition between Caribbean member states for visitor traffic will be fierce and some destinations may not attain previous arrival levels. Those islands whose livelihood depends on tourism will be out in full force globally, utilizing digitalized marketing and promotion techniques to motivate visitors to return to Paradise. Most likely, Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Cuba already have recovery action plans drawn up for implementation on short notice. If Barbados wishes to maintain a competitive edge, it must act accordingly.

The way I see it, for Barbados to regain and maintain popularity worldwide with consumers, a rebuilding program should be developed to allow for joint programming with airlines, tour operators and travel agent consortiums serving the destination.

My recommendations for a new game to support and rebuild Tourism are as follows:

A “DOING BARBADOS” RECOVERY PLAN – This plan should consist of two (2) distinct phases:

PHASE # 1- Maintaining a Presence

The immediate creation and launching of a digital destination campaign to keep Barbados foremost in the minds of global travellers and to inspire consumers to visit Barbados after Covid-19.

On April 03 Jamaica introduced its digital “Escape to Jamaica” program on its @Visit Jamaica Instagram channel. On April 06, Grenada followed suit with its “# Grenada Dreaming” campaign. Bahamas also recently launched its new from “The Bahamas with love” mini digital vacation video. All 3 programs were designed to provide consumers with a virtual getaway to their respective destinations. Content involved music, culture, cuisine, nature and friendly people, the trademarks of a Caribbean vacation. Barbados needs to do likewise  and launch a similar type campaign.

PHASE # 2 – Rebuilding the Industry

Barbados tourism industry like most Caribbean destinations will have suffered immense damage as a result of Covid-19. Rebuilding the industry will be a major challenge. It will take time to attain and achieve previous productivity levels. Future tourism programming will also have to be vastly superior to those of other sun destinations as potential visitors will be searching for affordable value for money holiday bargains. To this end, consideration should be given to launching a 3 year incentive rebuilding action plan campaign.


  1. To influence and motivate consumers to select Barbados as their warm weather holiday destination
  2. To grow visitor arrivals to the levels Barbados experienced prior to Covid -19
  3. To improve hotel occupancies, especially the small hotels
  4. To increase visitors’ length of stay
  5. To revisit and reform the Ministry of Tourism and the BTM Inc institutional framework to meet the demands and requirements of the new era tourism

Year #1

  1. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association should convene a meeting ASAP to discuss, create and partner
    a progressive destination marketing recovery program that will span 3 years.
  2. The program should feature a platinum incentive holiday package with add-on items in Year # 2 and #3
  3. The incentive should target market international travellers and repeat visitors. It should be designed to allow the BTMI, the BHTA, airlines and their tour companies, tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents to participate. The probability of including cruise ship passengers in the program should be considered
  4. Local activities programming should involve representation from the BTMI, BHTA, hotels, tour companies, restaurants, taxi companies, water sports operators, entertainers, artists, etc. Consideration should be given to establishing a special task force committee to work on the rebuilding project
  5. The program should comprise of all types of accommodation, especially the small hotels
  6. The program should be supported by social and traditional media platforms
  7. A Public Relations campaign should be launched to let consumers know Barbados is open for business
  8. Training seminars should be undertaken by the BTMI overseas offices in their respective markets to educate travel agents in small group sizes 25-30 on the new program
  9. Educational visitations by travel agents, overseas journalists, travel writers and travel press should be an integral part of the program
  10. Year # 1 programming should be available for implementation at the earliest possible date in the event Covid-19 comes to an early end.

Year #2

  1. Increase incentives and expand activities planned and implemented in Year # 1
  2. Expand target marketing campaigns to include special interest and niche market groups such as Diaspora, Cultural, Foodies, Weddings and Honeymoons and Snow Birds
  3. Advertising and Public Relations campaign expenditures should weigh heavily on targeting consumers to select Barbados as their destination of choice for holidays
  4. Investigate possibility of hosting travel agent evening receptions in some markets
  5. Review, make changes and improvements to the Ministry of Tourism and BTMI Institutional structure to allow for effective involvement in the new era tourism

(a) Review and improve where necessary relations with local hotels, taxis, restaurants, water sports operators, etc
(b) Evaluate external relations with airlines, tour operators, wholesalers and cruise lines
(c) Review and upgrade contractual arrangements with advertising and public relations agencies
(d) Review and evaluate operation and optics of BTMI overseas offices.

(e) Review Community Development and Tourism activities

Year #3

  1. Continuation and expansion of activities and incentives utilized in Years # 1 and # 2
  2. Introduce joint BTMI and BHTA overseas promotional tours
  3. Conduct BMTI and BHTA meeting to review continuation of the recovery plan or the introduction of a new and different campaign for rebuilding and supporting Barbados Tourism Industry
  4. Evaluate and consider the possibility of establishing a destination tour company

Finally, the one thought which has been constant in mind while creating this proposal is Robert Burns’ quotation on planning – “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. There is much food for thought in his message. New challenges will crop-up during the planning stages and they should not be ignored. One item top of the list is airlift. Barbados alone cannot kick start the rebuilding of its tourism industry. It will require airline assistance, preferable from carriers with scheduled services and their own tour companies. These will generate a mixture of visitors – package holidays vacationers and F.I.T travellers – and allow for a wider distribution of product sales.

Hopefully the Ministry of Tourism and the BTMI have already recognized this need and are conducting negotiations with the airlines serving Barbados to provide airlift at reasonable promotional rates for post Covid-19 travellers.

The above recommendations are not carved in stone. They can be changed, upgraded or deleted. The whole idea was to provide a guideline on how to deal with the current and post Covid-19 environment.

BTMI and Marketing Barbados


Submitted by Andrew Nehaul

How much should the BTMI spend on enticing a visitor to Barbados? The answer depends on a number of factors –

  1. The country of origin
  2. The length of stay
  3. The age of the potential visitors
  4. The reason for travel (sports, honeymoon, family holidays etc)
  5. The average hotel cost in winter/summer.

Although visitors from the USA have the shortest stay compared to those from the UK & Europe, I am sure that due to the high media cost in the USA, the money spent to attract visitors must be on par with Europe.

In 1986 the BTA had a policy of a maximum cost of USD10 per visitor. This was presumably due to the budget they had at the time as the major markets to Barbados were from  the UK, Germany, The USA & The Caribbean.

Some years ago, the BTA in their wisdom and under the guidance of David Rice they allegedly paid a marketing cost in excess of USD1000/person for a charter from Scandinavia. Looking back, this decision seemed to be more political than feasible as glowing talk of a new charter was pronounced after the ITB.

It is high time that the BTMI become more transparent in its worldwide marketing activities. Not only what they intend to do but where and why. Also, the arrival card should be abolished and instead provided to visitors online for completion similar to Aruba This will give all and sundry a real time access to visitor information that can be used for focused marketing programs.

I now want to suggest that the BTMI become the Caribbean’s Tourism social marketing ninja.

To do this they should immediately activate a social media department based in Barbados. This department should be staffed by persons who not only are first-class at using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other forms of digital media but also at writing relevant short copy and be creative enough to get the attention of the target market. No sitting in an office! They should be responsible enough to travel the length and breadth of the island daily to find stories to share immediately via a smart phone. (I hope that this does not turn into a scenario where their stories must be sent to a  boss who has to approve them first and takes a week or two to do so)

The need for these Bajan media rock stars are to entice visitors to Barbados. Anything they produce MUST have excellent pictures which portray the best sides of Barbados – from food to beaches, sport, water activities etc

Some concepts they can use:

  • Interviews with persons at the conference center to send info on Barbados as a conference/incentive destination.
  • Short videos of turtles for an eko friendly base.
  • Beaches, beaches, beaches
  • Video interviews of hotel staff/concierge tell all about what the island has to offer.
  • Concepts to encourage health tourism.
  • Polo, golf, tennis + + +
  • Positive interviews with cruise visitors.
  • and  101 more I could share

I suggest that this would work better if they bought some photos or video from local photographers instead of having their own. I say this as each photographer has their own eye and slant on the visual. Therefore having a great choice of photos to choose from is best.

Finally, visitors should be encouraged to post on their own social media platforms while on the island and incentives for this should be offered to them.

Adrian Loveridge Column – The Plane, the Plane

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.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism Wish-list

What would the first column of a new year be without including a tourism wish list?

And not necessarily in any order of priority or potential realization!

As Air Canada prepares to roll-out publicly, its first new re-branded Airbus A220-300 airplane, number one of 45 on order, exciting opportunities present themselves, especially within the Caribbean.

This ‘incredibly fuel efficient’ aircraft is capable of flying nonstop some 3,200 nautical miles (5,020k), but with a capacity of just 137 passengers in two classes, boasting the widest economy seats in their entire fleet.

There isn’t anybody on this planet that can ever convince me that we are unable to fill at least one of these planes, once a week with a direct service from Ottawa.

In fact, if historical arrival data is studied, my guess is that we already welcome around 100 plus people travelling from Ottawa weekly to Barbados, at least during the winter, but currently being compelled to connect through Toronto or Montreal.

We should also look carefully at the demographics of these visitors from the Canadian capital and evaluate the difference a direct flight could make.  While, at the same time, research other airlines that already have, or plan to add the A220 to their fleet,

Chicago, Minneapolis and Winnipeg should be considered with a flying time of around 6 hours one-way, or utilization of 12-14 hours in any given 24 hours, which is an important economic consideration for a small plane. Enticing additional visitors from areas with extended winters is critical, if we wish to improve our annual average accommodation occupancy.

Staying with airlift, we desperately need to refocus on the Scandinavian market, before it is lost, forever possibly.

With the current costs associated with running any tourism enterprise on Barbados, it is clearly obvious, that we cannot seriously compete in mass tourism, so we have to better target, where our visitors live and their ability to book and travel to perceived iconic destinations.

Whatever, ultimately happens with Scotland remaining part of the post- Brexit United Kingdom, there is certainly the negotiated possibility of non-APD (Advance Passenger Duty) taxed flights departing from Scottish airports at considerable savings to passengers.

From media reports, the Scottish Passenger Agents Association has already discussed the possibility of restoring Glasgow flights with our tourism planners.

Secondly, as someone who has been deeply involved in the sale of a hotel over the last couple of years, it has become abundantly clear to me, that our overall investment climate needs a radical overhaul.

Currently for potential new investors, whether local or overseas, it is far too complicated, restrictive and fragmented.

It is not solely down to the public sector and the inevitable delays in securing basic information and documentation, but our banks and legal fraternity has to share part of the blame as well.

While past Government’s may have put accepted criteria in place for investment and repatriation of registered funds, it is clear that these conditions and minor concessions are not widely understood by the many and diverse ministries and their employees involved in completing any process.

For years, I have called for a one-stop investment shop, where any would-be investor can extract all the necessary documentation and information under one simple online roof.

We have to decide whether or not, tourism is our business and if further private sector involvement is an integral part of our eventual economic recovery.

The sooner this happens, the closer we will be to making this a tangible reality.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Year of Opportunity

As we prepare to enter another new year, Christmas and the festive season gives way to traditionally the busiest holiday booking period in many of our major markets, notably the United Kingdom.

I would like to designate 2020 as the Year of Opportunity. With a new head of our national tourism marketing agency shortly in place, perhaps we could use these next months to better evaluate where we are missing potential opportunities, which can be turned into increased arrival numbers, extended length of stay and higher individual visitor spend.

Yes! There are those who believe that the majority of our guests stay in high end hotels and villas, but the reality is quite different.

Despite, the introduction of the last few years of over 550 rooms across two properties, who now boast annual occupancy levels of 90 plus percent, our total registered hotel room stock, struggles to achieve a yearly average occupancy of 67 per cent.

This is even more concerning, as recently released figures indicated that we are claiming record numbers of long stay visitors.

So the only logical conclusion is that there has been an even higher growth in the alternative lodging sector than either anticipated, or in fact, planned for in terms of marketing and licensing. It follows that this market is far more likely to look for travel bargains to reach us and they are out there if a little research is undertaken.

As an example, the current Virgin Atlantic sale is offering return flights from Gatwick to Barbados for as low at GB Pounds 407 including all taxes, even in peak months like March. Quite remarkable, in itself, when you consider the taxes and add-ons on that fare alone are GB Pounds 171.02 per ticket.

Book through bonus benefit websites, like TopCashBack, and you can get another GB Pounds 7.50 off.  I was also able to book an overnight room at a large chain hotel within sight of Gatwick Airport at just over GB Pounds 18, for certain nights of the week.

And for the more adventurous, who maybe want to break their journey in the United States for shopping or sightseeing, can fly one way with Norwegian Airlines from Gatwick to Miami at GB Pounds 160 and then use miles on American Airlines for as little as 8,000 miles and taxes of US$7.10 from Miami to Barbados. Obviously these are the lowest fares available with certain luggage and other restrictions, but as they say ‘the price is right’.

While Barbados is continually perceived as a high cost destination, it is only in our interests to ensure that every potential visitor has the greatest choice of reaching us at the most affordable fares.

While we extract some of the highest airport departure taxes payable within the Caribbean, the real benefit is gleaned to Government from the taxes, VAT and levies paid on accommodation, car rental, dining experiences, shopping, attractions and activities and surely that should be where we concentrate our efforts on getting them here?

Adrian Loveridge Column – Welcome to Barbados Mr and Mrs Tourist

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Returning recently to Barbados on a British Airways flight, landing early from a near freezing Gatwick Airport, it was a real treat to clear entry formalities using the automated passport kiosks in seconds. Then being finally processed by a warm welcoming female Immigration officer.

With only cabin baggage, passing through the red channel was just as trouble free, with time to speak briefly with the very friendly male Customs Officer. These visitor first impressions, especially when choosing us as a destination while being confronted with multiple options, makes a huge psychological difference.

We tend to forget, that for the majority of our cherished guests, have endured many hours of travelling, even before they board the plane for the nine or so hours of flying from Britain and Europe. Especially in our peak winter months, leaving their home in the dark dead of night or early morning, often in severe weather conditions.

By the time that plane touches down at Grantley Adams airport, they just want to disembark the aircraft, make their way to their own particular accommodation choice and get to the room to hopefully enjoy a first drink before falling into bed.

Anything that we can collectively do, to speed up check-in at the hotel, villa, apartment or alternative lodging, is a win for our arrivals, like pre-registering online, rather than wait for indeterminate times at reception desks.

While this, for many, may seem like an obvious observation, in my personal experience, it is not a universally adopted practice at the vast majority of accommodation offerings. In most cases the hotel is aware of the flight arrival time and can organize the cleaning and preparation of the room accordingly, to avoid lengthy delays at check-in.

For repeat guests, while owning a small hotel, we adopted a simple policy of placing a locally made welcome back gift in each room, recognizing that those who made the decision to return, were the most valuable guests, as no further marketing or promotional dollars were needed in their particular case.

We also ‘cushioned’ the cost of holiday extras by including several non-accommodation options like car rental, activities, attractions and dining experiences in specific packages which passed on negotiated discounts to our guests from certain suppliers.

The thinking behind this concept was, that we can only extract revenue in so many ways and better to have the paid commitment of a non-refundable room deposit for a future stay, than not.

For us, it made planning and budgeting very much easier and directly resulting in achieving one of the highest occupancy levels of any hotel on the island.

As our hotel operating days shortly come to an end, in our thirty years it has been an incredible learning experience.

For those still pondering a future in the hospitality industry, I cannot think of a more rewarding sector for those who really want to make a positive difference in our nation’s future.  But to pretend it is not without challenges that requires dedicated hard work, would be like perpetuating a myth.

Adrian Loveridge Column – BREXIT Looms and UK Tourists Weigh Cost of Travel

This weeks column comes from within the United Kingdom with the continued Brexit debacle hanging a massive question mark and uncertainty over the tourism industry. While the value of the Sterling against other major currencies has for decades been volatile, tour operators are left to second guess what a realistic exchange rate will be for the US$ and Euro next year in order to price their holiday offerings. Combine that with increasing oil prices raising the cost of A1 aviation fuel and a double whammy. Then add in that almost everything imported into the UK will cost more post 31st October, resulting in depleted discretionary spending for every British family and you begin to comprehend the concern from what still remains our largest single visitor market.

With the huge increases in the cost of flying to and staying on Barbados through the introduction of additional departure taxes, accommodation and ancillary tourism levies imposed in October 2018, many of our normally loyal visitors are already questioning whether or not they can afford to return. For potential new visitors, they are questioning where they cannot obtain better value-for-money. When you see return airfares from Britain to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and all inclusive holidays to the Indian Ocean priced at less than a comparable period to Barbados, not surprisingly, destination choices are being seriously considered.

Of course our tourism providers on Barbados have not been spared staggering increases in operating costs and it has become almost impossible to absorb them any more without bringing business viability and reduction in staffing levels into question.

One of our restaurant partners recently indicated that they could no longer accept the BDS$99 per person rate for our re-Discover special dinner offering. Completely understandable but Bds$99 at the current rate of exchange is around GB Pounds 41 and apart from our more well heeled guests hardly a bargain to the vast majority.

To put this in perspective, my brother and I, recently ate at a large chain carvery restaurant, where a main course with almost unlimited sides plus a choice of several delicious desserts cost BDS$18 each.

The Long Haul Holiday Report put together by Post Office Money and Travelbag measures the cost of ten everyday holiday purchases across 34 popular long-haul destinations. In 2018 Barbados recorded a 20% increase for this basket’ – the second highest across the 34.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Politicians Killing the Tourism Goose

During the 30 plus years my wife and I have lived on Barbados we have tried to take at least a couple of short breaks within the region or locally each year.

Having chaired, and or sat, on various tourism committees over those three decades and being a frequent commentator on the sector, I have always felt obliged to know as much about our tourism offerings as possible.  And frankly, despite our combined work experience, neither of us has ever had any illusions that we cannot learn from others in the business and during that process, improve our own product.

Sadly, taxation imposed by consecutive Governments has now made flying within the Caribbean almost inhibitive, except for those with deep pockets, or having their travel paid for by companies or the state via the taxpayer.

As someone who has championed intra-regional travel for nearly 40 years, even before our re-DISCOVER initiative was launched, shortly after the tragic events of 911, it is soul destroying, knowing that as a direct result on ‘sky high’ airfares it has dramatically and negatively impacted average hotel room occupancy, especially in the softer summer months.

The current policy thinking appears to build more and more hotels up to 15 floors high, when we cannot even finish the ones that have been started, but now lay idle. The quoted $84 million said to have been ploughed into Sam Lords Castle and the promised five diamond 450 room Wyndham Grand Resort are glaring examples.

Imagine, just for a moment if that figure of $84 million is vaguely creditable, what could have been achieved, if spent creatively and cost-effectively marketing Barbados and filling the thousands of empty rooms we have across the island currently.

Of course, if our politicians were spending their own monies, very few of these gross errors of ‘judgment’ would occur, but while a relentless pouring tap of taxpayers monies are easily available, the status quo seems unavoidable.

We do not have to travel far to see proof of this theory.

After that infamous statement ‘If we had to be perfectly honest, St. Lucia is at least 30 years behind Barbados, in terms of tourism – that’s the reality’, publicly uttered by someone who should have known the truth.

Yet in 2017, according to Statista (the recognized expert statistics portal), revenue generated by that country’s hospitality sector reached US$801 million.  Putting that in perspective, St. Lucia, with less rooms and airlift, generated within one fifth of the total recorded by Barbados (US$1.08 billion) for the same year.

My hope is that either the tourism trade association (BHTA) or an independent and authoritative body will commission a study to evaluate what a 10 percent increase annually in average room occupancy would produce in terms of profitably and overall revenue collection for both the private and public (taxation) sector.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Sharpening Tourism Pencil a Must

What practical measures could we implement to help negate the consequence of the falling value of Sterling and make Barbados more affordable for our existing and potential British visitors?

My thoughts are, that we have to think way beyond the very basics, like flights and accommodation and look for smart partnerships which will bring the overall cost of the holiday down significantly.

For our locally based tourism providers, it is perhaps easy to forget that for most of our arriving passengers, their overall experience starts with a journey to the airport by car or train, and often includes pre or post flight hotel accommodation and long term parking. These and other areas like preferential currency exchange and the choice of how to pay for these services, could through alliances, provide significant savings for our visitors.

By negotiating volume rates with specific hotels and parking options and tying this in with a named credit or debit card which offers cash back, is a win-win option. Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester airports are incredibly well served by trains and with one of the various RailCards, available for a small annual fee, savings of over 30 per cent for adults and 60 per cent for children.

By working with existing highly successful online marketing companies like Groupon, TopCashBack and Loco2, further substantial savings are possible, reducing the overall bottom line expense.

In 2014, Groupon boasted they had over 48 million active customers across 48 countries spending more than US$7.6 billion during that year. TopCashBack partners with over 4,000 merchants where registered users can obtain significant discounts in the way of returning cash rewards on everyday purchases across a huge range of goods and services.

Loco2, now a subsidiary of the French railway giant, voyages-SNCF, is an integrated booking engine, incorporating train franchises throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, supplying the most competitive fares and journey options. They are one of the few such entities to offer an introductory bonus, which allows both those recommending the company and new users to receive a meaningful discount on their first ticket purchase.

Naturally the airfare is one of the largest component costs of the holiday and our more independent travellers are increasingly ‘shopping around’ for more competitive choices by using websites like Google Flights which gives all the options and a very useful ‘price grid’ which helps identify particular days of travel which are less expensive.

Again by choosing to link through TopCashBack, both Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines offer a rebate on total ticket price.

While we may remain a largely tour operator driven destination that has a small number of brand name properties, the larger hotel groups worldwide are aggressively concentrating on attracting online direct bookings by guaranteeing the lowest possible room rate. They have found that this increases guest loyalty while reducing the dependency on intermediate booking agencies and the substantial commission they extract.

This trend will almost certainly continue, with the more innovative hotel groups further strengthening that brand allegiance by probably offering ‘free night’ stays to be taken at a later date based on completed stays. Of course there is a great deal more that ‘we’ can do, but the longer we delay, the risk is that our competitors will inevitably seize the moment.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Flying German Wings

Barbados has been hugely successful in attracting new airlift and all our major markets have largely benefited, most notably the United States.

The new German Wings upcoming three flights each week from Frankfurt hopefully will dramatically increase our Continental European visitors. Not just from Germany, but from all the bordering countries that enjoy seamless rail connections to the adjacent Frankfurt Airport station.

While most ‘experts’ agree that the largest most accessible market for us in North America is the United States north eastern seaboard, there remains untapped opportunities in other parts of the country. Perhaps this is why St. Lucia has secured a direct non-stop seasonal American Airlines weekly service from Chicago commencing December.  United Airlines has already serviced this route and some confusion exists whether or not they will re-instate or continue, so I contacted them and this was the reply,

While this is one of our seasonal routes, we don’t have any further details regarding that particular route at this time. We recommend keeping an eye on our website for updates. An announcement will be made, if that route comes back.

With a flight time of just 5 hours and 30 minutes, eliminating the need to endure lengthy time-wasting connections, it provides an incredible opportunity for severe winter weather inhabitants to reach the southern Caribbean in a single hassle-free flight. Clearly, both the airline and St. Lucia want this new route to work, as at the time of writing this column, seats were even available using as low as 30,000 AAdvantage miles and US$120 in taxes, for a return economy ticket, even on the inaugural flight, which falls over the Christmas holiday period. Full revenue tickets during the peak period start at US$795 return including all taxes, which is competitively priced when you consider the distance and the absence of intermediate secondary flights.

When you start comparing seat availability and cost to Barbados from New York, the Chicago service looks even more appealing.

JetBlue offers a similar flight time from JFK to Barbados, but with the loss of a direct American flight from JFK, it now requires a minimum of 7 hours and 6 minutes journey duration, connecting through a second hub.

Staying with airlines, many would have read that Thomas Cook Airlines are up-for-sale, with several companies expressing an interest, including Virgin Atlantic and the Lufthansa Group, who also own Condor Airlines. Sir Richard Branson, who is now a minority shareholder in Virgin Atlantic Airways, has also intimated some involvement with a restructured LIAT according to media reporting.

Could this be a sustainable solution?

LIAT to feed passengers onto Virgin transatlantic flights from the Caribbean destined for the United Kingdom.

While this currently happens, is there a more structured way, which could result in the long term survival of LIAT and enhanced connectivity both with the region and beyond?

An increase in triangle routes would also produce more availability within the Caribbean, where seats on the in-between sectors could be sold at affordable prices. An example would be Gatwick-Antigua-Barbados or reverse.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Look, We Can Do Better

The peak winter season is over.

Ahead of us are eight long softer summer months and every creative fibre throughout our national body should now go into hyperdrive to help maximize our tourism potential until December.

We need our food and wine distributors to become more ardent and see how better they can work with our hospitality industry to jointly enhance value and variety on offer. Perhaps this could be done in concert with the many countries we enjoy diplomatic relations with like Canada, the European Union, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, who all produce wine and may have a desirable product that we can include in our culinary offerings. I know some time ago the Argentinian Ambassador was proactive in this area, highlighting their incredible regional wine producing areas.

Our banks, already knowing there are vast amounts of untapped savings out there acquiring little or no interest, have to play a much greater part with incentives like cash back on credit and debit card tourism purchases. Monthly tourism prizes to stimulate awareness and demand would be an obvious first step.

Both sectors already have a ready-made co-operative marketing tool called re-DISCOVER ( where over 50 restaurant partners have been working together with a common objective for years.

The hotel association should also step up and as early as the beginning of next month offer a comprehensive and ongoing StayCation programme which will tempt many locals and long stay visitors to sample our myriad of available accommodation options.

One statistic stays in my mind and that is 67 per cent. Across all our registered accommodation (villas and hotels) this figure of an average 67 occupancy per annual is widely quoted. Frankly, I don’t care if this ‘average’ is typical of the Caribbean region as a whole. This is Barbados and we can do better.

What could possibly justify having up 15,000 empty villa and hotels rooms empty on any given night with a vacant capacity of at least 30,000 visitor arrivals? There must be something we can do to fill those rooms, that we are currently not doing. Personal, my main concentration would be to devise a comprehensive plan to take that 67 up to 77 per cent annual occupancy. I just wonder, if anyone has actually sat down and calculated the financial benefit that would bring to the country?

While we target travel writers and journalists in the hard core departure cities, is there further opportunity to invite those who work on regional and local publications in the environs of our connecting cities? To me it’s a no-brainer, an empty room matched with a responsive travel publication! If a well written destination article can attract just ten first time visitors to Barbados, isn’t it cost-effective?

Of course, there are many more areas we can look at, or take a second look, including enticing frequent flyers, who already have the means to reach us without the perceived hurdle of geographic distance or high air fares.

As the private sector takes greater charge of our tourism destiny, perhaps there has never been a better time, in modern days, to exert that influence.

Barbados Cabinet Breaks Promise to Consult BWU re: transfer of BTPA to BTMI

The embedded documents support a view the government has backtracked on a promise made to employees at the BTPA and the Barbados Workers Union. In the interest of transparency and integrity it is important for the Mia Mottley led government to clarify the matter if it is to sustain the confidence of the people it serves. The last thing the citizenry wants is a government that was voted to office with an overwhelming mandate to mimic the decisions of its successor.

See relevant documents shared with Barbados Underground.



The Adrian Loveridge Column – Incentive Travel

Recently seeing an image of one of the late Sir Freddie Laker’s B707’s, registration number G – AVZZ, painted in Caribbean Airways livery, took me back several decades to when we conceived and operated one of our largest groups at that time to Barbados.

We had approached a Swedish owned high end caravan company who had a small manufacturing plant in Felixstowe, England. They had a fairly steady average production line each month with the notable exception of September, which was traditionally a quiet time in terms of unit construction and sales.

So we crafted an incentive scheme, where every retail dealer that purchased at least one caravan to be delivered and invoiced in September, ‘won’ a ten day holiday to Barbados for themselves and accompanying partner.

Even factoring in 40 years of inflation, the cost per holiday had to fall below GB Pounds 500 each person, which gave return flights, hotel accommodation, most meals and what now seems like an incredible offering which included a mini-moke safari, exclusive charter of the original Jolly Roger and several other goodies.

Southern Palms was chosen as the host hotel, which still remains one of my personal island favourites. All went incredibly well with the 72 member group until the day of departure. After checking-in, we boarded the aircraft and taxied off almost exactly on-time. A few minutes later, there was a very loud explosion with one of the four engines fragmenting across the fuselage.

In what appeared to be a very English accent, the Captain, who I suspect was ex: Royal Air Force, calmly announced that we ‘had developed a slight technical problem’ and had to return to Barbados, which would take a ‘few minutes’.  At first you could barely hear a whisper, but as the time ticked away, that mummed quietness slowly turned into an almost crescendo of noise as anxiety grew. Eventually, as we saw the island lights in the distance, that noise evaporated and we landed perfectly safely without further concern.

Of course, with almost full fuel tanks, the plane could not land before dumping thousands of gallons of aviation spirit at sea. By then, Southern Palms Hotel had re-filled with new guests, so our next challenge was to find almost 40 empty rooms at a few minute’s notice. Fortunately, Rockley Resort was able to accommodate the entire group for the 4 days it took to fly a replacement engine down from Miami and the time to fit and test.

The same air crew flew us back to Gatwick without any further incidents.

I still believe incentive and motivational travel offers incredible further potential for a destination like Barbados, despite tax changes negatively impacting on the net beneficial value to the recipients.

For many of our visitors, a taxation rate of 40 per cent on earned income is not uncommon, so the award of unplanned holiday can often be a far more compelling ‘carrot’ than cash after mandatory deductions.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Open for Singles!

Depending on which of the multitude of sources you believe, our average year round hotel occupancy is quoted at around 67 percent.

Recently a senior industry spokesperson stated that we have a total of ‘6,000 hotel rooms and 3,000 villa rooms’.

This does not of course include the explosion of alternative lodging choices which has ‘appeared’ over the last decade. Until these Airbnb type offerings are fully identified, systematically listed and licensed, we can only speculate on just what percentage of our total arrivals choose to stay at these previously non traditional accommodations.

So, let’s just focus on those 9,000 villa and hotel rooms for the moment.

At 67 per cent average annual occupancy that would equate to having every one of those rooms full for 244 nights of the year. If a typical average stay is 7 nights with two persons per room, that’s a total of 627,428 people, but that does not seem to tally with published arrival figures.

This is perhaps an area which needs a great deal more investigation and clarification or our combined efforts in marketing the destination could be based on misconceptions.

Conversely, that would also mean that the ‘9,000 rooms’ were empty for 120 nights of the year, which based on the same assumptions, mean that we actually have an unfilled capacity of another 308,571 visitors or guests per year. I use the word ‘guests’ deliberately, as I personally feel there is a great deal more opportunity for domestic staycations.

The question then begs, how do we creatively fill all those empty rooms both to the financial benefit of the individual properties and to the country at large with the collection of increased taxation?

There are many existing promotions to encourage special events including sports, culinary and other potential areas of mass interest.

Could a singles month be a possibility?

Most of us fully understand the reason for single supplements and the economic reasons they are applied. But an empty room has no value, as it’s impossible to fill it twice on another night.

There are several specialist single travel tour operators who already have a captive customer base that we could work with and I am sure our partner airlines would welcome the possibility of filling more seats, even if it’s one at a time. When for instance, was the last operator FAM (familiarization) trip specifically aimed at these tour companies?

When I GOOGLED ‘single travel to Barbados’ I was surprised just how little information was available, so perhaps this is an area that our tourism policymakers could highlight and exploit.

It would of course be foolish to speculate substantial funds on any targeted

marketing plan without first embarking on research to identify the very best way of engaging this niche group, which some estimate could be as high as one in four of all travellers from our major visitor sources.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Iconic Destination or What!

I really hate opening any column with a negative, but after tourism leading the way for so many years, one is left to wonder why we cannot even seem to get the simple things right?

Returning into Grantley Adams International Airport from London recently off a British Airways flight that was not quite full, at around the same time a Condor plane had landed.

So, what could have been 400 to 500 people in the line attempting to clear immigration, having already been travelling between 8 and 10 flying hours, plus probably another two hours to reach the departing airport and at least two more hours for check-in prior to boarding. The first thing our visitors notice on arrival is the idle shiny 14 Automated Passport Control Kiosks.  Still not in use, despite media reports as early as 8th May 2017 (nearly two years ago) stating they will soon be ‘operational’ and the very many assurances proffered since then.

At the time of ordering this clearly expensive equipment, surely all considerations for implementation were discussed and agreed prior to spending vast amounts of taxpayer’s monies?

What remains incredulous is that our national marketing agency driven by private sector interest has been spectacularly successful in attracting huge amounts of additional airlift into Barbados.

In the interim, perhaps some humanitarian measures could be put place, like having one or more dedicated immigration desks to process those with small children and infants.

Having scores of clearly tired and distressed vocal youngsters and their exhausted parents standing for arbitrary periods among a huge mass of people is not the ideal start to a much awaited holiday.

With the imposition of all the additional taxes that our cherish visitors end up paying, if we are going to continue this often muted reputation as an iconic destination, they have to be absolutely convinced that at least a substantial proportion of this windfall Government revenue is spent to improve and upgrade the status quo.

Of course, the problem does not just end at Immigration.

The next challenge and delay is at baggage claim and then Customs. In my recent experience, it is now quicker to join the red channel, even if you have nothing to declare, rather than swell the extended queue of what most would reasonably consider, a faster option of the green channel.

The concept of having a taxi dispatcher to help control excessive fares and rogue (often referred to as snatchers) operators is a laudable one. But our peak winter periods with literally thousands of passengers arriving during an hour, one dispatcher simply cannot cope.

As I queued in yet another line to secure a taxi the short distance to Inch Marlow, a German family with two very small children, argued the rate for their journey with the solitary dispatcher, after having researched the correct fare on the internet.

These niggling impediments help destroy all the extensive and costly marketing and promotional efforts.

And however well our guests are treated on-island, by all those employed in the industry, these first impressions have a profound effect of whether or not we are chosen as a return destination of choice.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Hotel Veteran Pauses to Reflect

As I enter my 53rd Year in tourism it’s perhaps time to reflect on some of the very many experiences and opportunities this incredible industry has brought to me.

Having spent a prolonged period as a child in hospital being treated for what, at that time, was a disease with a 50% mortality survival rate, the seemingly endless days were abridged with second hand copies of National Geographic magazines. Even in the late nineteen fifties the journals photography was outstanding and it was those images which drove my relentless interest in travel.

My first ‘voyage’ of discovery was at the age of 16 years hitch-hiking from England to Istanbul in Turkey.

I vividly recall seeing Paris for the first time and trying to comprehend how a city, so close to London, could be so strikingly different.  Paris would later become the most popular destination for our tour operation company and I would re-visit literally hundreds of times, without for a single second, losing any of its magical appeal.

Soon after, I travelled to Canada and whilst maintaining two jobs, one at McDonalds and another as a waiter at the Lock, Stock and Barrel, it allowed me to volunteer my services to a local travel agency to acquire the necessary skills to make a living within the industry.

Whilst still in the travel industry I replied to an advertisement in the British Sunday Times placed by a Swiss based company, Globus Gateway.  They invited me to an interview which took place in a nondescript third floor office in Oxford street in Londons West end.  At the time I felt the interview went badly for me and I returned to Canada. Days later an invitation arrived to join a training tour taking in as many European countries as there is in a week.

Looking back it is now easy to understand that this training tour was for me, and the other 20 plus hopefuls, an endurance test for physical and mental ability.

Once again, so doubtful that I had secured the job as a  Tour Director I returned to Winnipeg.  To my absolute astonishment about a week later a telex  arrived in my office on Portage Avenue instructing me to collect all relevant documentation to guide T628. The ‘T’ indicated the type of European tour and the ‘628’ the date it started – 28th June.

Fortunately, the 36 Americans booked on T628 arrived at Heathrow and spent the first two nights in London, a city that I had an intimate knowledge of.   But, that was just the beginning.  T628 turned out to be the longest tour operated by the company – 47 days duration, taking in 16 sovereign countries, 4 of which I had never visited before!  3 days later later I and the group flew to Madrid to begin the Continental European portion.   In broken Spanish I introduced myself to the main motor coach driver and sheepishly asked Manuel if he knew Europe well.  His response was that he lived in Madrid and occasionally visited Barcelona.  He had never been outside of Spain whilst driving a coach….


The adventure began and despite all the associated challenges, I managed to complete the tour almost seven weeks later.

I would always be grateful to Globus for giving me an incredible opportunity and if there is any recognisable moral to this weeks column it is the travel and tourism industry provides an unparalleled platform to advance a career anywhere in the world.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – 2019 Wish List

As we end another challenging year and enter a new hopefully more positive one, it would appear disingenuous not to have a 2019 wish list or perhaps more realistically a dream list. So just for the sake of it, here is mine (not necessarily in order of implementation).

  1. I remain firmly convinced that there is a great deal more to be achieved if we learn to work better together, sharing ideas and costs.Many years ago we convinced the three largest villa rental agencies to jointly prepare suitable artwork including each of them in a single page ‘ad’ that was then placed in targeted travel magazines. The reach was greater for the cost than if they had attempted it individually and gave them much greater coverage.
  2. Over the years I admit to have dismally failed to persuade the policymakers to implement an effective frequent flyer offering.This, despite an enormous growth in loyalty programmes which has been largely driven by the vastly increased number of ways to amass miles, often without even having to fly anywhere.
  3. For most of our visitors, their holiday or vacation does not start at the airport or destination. It begins at home. For our more elderly clientele, getting to and from their home airport can present fundamental challenges with associated concerns and perceived risks. I would like to see us work with other travel partners like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains to make airport access simpler, less stressful and less expensive. Rather like the British Rail Card concept, which for a small annual fee reduces the cost of travel on trains by as much as 30 per cent.
  4. To identify and spend next year restoring and upgrading ten historical buildings in Bridgetown and Speightstown with the support of volunteers and corporate Barbados. Whether these finally become craft shops, art galleries, cafés or other useful revenue generating premises could be decided along the way.
  5. To reduce our dependence on imported food stuffs by using the vast acreage of idle agricultural land to facilitate co-operative growers and provide the necessary security and environment to deter praedial larceny.
  6. It would not be a credible wish list without mentioning airlift. Again, for years I have been trying to persuade the low cost carrier, Norwegian Air to service Barbados. Ideally, with non stop services from the Scandinavian airports they currently fly to, notably Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo. They operate a large fleet of B787 Dreamliner’s, perhaps the most ideal aircraft for the distance and timings. Even if we could only pick one of these airports, it makes economic sense to initially share a triangle route with our neighbour, St. Lucia.

Secondly, it is only a matter of time before an Icelandic airline flies into the Caribbean. With the newest aircraft types the capacity risk is dramatically reduced with smaller planes able to fly further. Iceland’s strategic geographical location and its proven ability to punch way above its weight, makes it an ideal partner.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Government Ministers Flying Economy

If the reporting is factually correct, then all of us should warmly welcome the recent announcement by Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, stating that ‘the country’s tourism sector is about to become a level playing field when it comes to concessions granted for food and beverage importation’.

Adding ‘she had tasked Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds, to eradicate the bureaucratic unevenness faced by local hotels seeking clearance for the granting of concessions under the Tourism Development Act (Amended)’.

The second verbatim quotation raises a few concerns. Will this new policy only relate to hotels, or will it also apply to our stand-alone restaurants?

Our several dining options enjoy a good reputation and it would be a terrible shame to disadvantage them now.

The reason for requesting indisputable clarification will be critical to our post Brexit British market, especially with Easter falling late in April next year.Traditionally the bulk of overseas holidays are booked in the days immediately following Christmas, at least in the UK.

With the continued unpredictability surrounding the negative effects of Brexit, compounded by higher mortgage interest rates and a 30 year low value of Sterling against the US$. These factors will all play a huge part for those deciding which destination may offer the best value-for-money.

It also raises the question whether our policymakers and planners have put in place a contingency committee or group to carefully study and help mitigate any potential negative implications that may be caused by Brexit.

Are ‘we’ for instance looking at any possible reduction in airlift or the impact of the loss of EU261 which currently guarantees compensation for delayed flights operated by the current European Union member state airlines?

On a flight recently to Miami, it was particularly refreshing to witness at least two Government Ministers, including the Minister of Tourism and a Senator, seated in economy class.

And heartening later to read that it was a new Government mandate that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and officers of a regulated grade would now fly economy on all flights of four hours or less and business class above a four hour duration. In actuality, this only covers direct nonstop flights to Florida and Panama. In hindsight it might have attracted far more credibility to have extended this to five hours, therefore including New York (area), Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Charlotte.

I also hope that this token move is taken a step further, by ensuring that all Government travel business including flights, accommodation and sustenance is paid for by designated credit or debit cards, which could earn those valuable frequent flyer miles or points ensuring further reductions in overall taxpayer spend and greater transparency of expenses.

Regular readers will know that I am a long standing and strong advocate of airline and hotel loyalty schemes and their associated benefits. As an example my recent connection flight from Barbados to Heathrow cost US$52.90 plus miles.

Just as our more innovative banks have devised credit cards that earn users additional cash back rewards, there is no reason why this preferred method of payment could not substantially bring down the overall net cost to Government.

Especially, when you factor in the increased number of Ministry portfolios, which will without doubt, create even more conceivably immoderate travel opportunities.

What if Rihanna were Prime Minister?

Submitted by PUDRYR

What Makes a Prime Minister.png

Some weeks ago, the ole man noted a comment from Mr. William Skinner, a fellow blogger where, while he spoke of breaking the deleterious chains of this BDLP Duopoly, he suggested the possible advancing of Rihanna Fenty as Prime Minister.

The ole man has been examining his suggestion anew in the light our serious need for “New Blood” perspective and the necessity to break this rut that our country has descended into.

We have no national inspiration nor any desire, like Rihanna, for Bajans to aspire to be “A Credit to their nation Wherever We May GO.”

I humbly suggest to you readers that what we need is a radical disruption and departure from this path of useless incompetents and a need to have ALL of our people embrace real change.

And I humbly suggest that this change WILL BE FOUND in Rihanna.

Many people (of whom the Honourable Blogmaster numbers high in this list), are quick to say that “Mia Mottley is a millionaire” as if this is some superlative qualification.

But the ole man, would ask those of you, who will read this submission, (INCLUDING RIHANNA?) to contemplate the instructive Cassius/Brutus comments  (Act I Scene 2)

Brutus and Caesar—what should be in that “Caesar”? “Rihanna and Mia” —what should be in that “Mia”?

Why should that name be sounded more than yours?

Write them together, yours is as fair a name. Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well.

Weigh them, it is as heavy. Conjure with ’em, “Brutus” will start a spirit as soon as “Caesar.” And Rihanna will start a spirit as soon as Mia.”

Now in the names of all the gods at once, Upon what meat doth this our Mia feed, That she is grown so great?

Age, thou art shamed! Barbados, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!

When went there by an age, since the great Errol Barrow, But BIM was famed with more than with one (wo)man?

When could they say till now, that talked of BIM, That BIM’s wide walks encompassed but one (wo)man?

Rihanna Fenty is a millionairess too”, many times more that Mia Mottley (at least what Mia’s official declaration states heheheheh)

Mia is said to be able to speak without a paper, AND, as an actress, so can Rihanna.

Mia has 26 ministers around her running the finances of Barbados – a $1.5 billion indebted country, OF WHOM 21 MINISTERS ARE IDIOTS!!

Rihanna is part of a MULTIBILLION DOLLAR empire AND IS SURROUNDED BY, & HAS ACCESS TO OVER 1,000 FINANCIAL EXPERTS, people whose performance validation contracts don’t permit them to tinker with finances, THEY GET THE JOB RIGHT, EVERY TIME, or they get fired. FULLSTOP

Do you Bajans who truly want change, understand this?

Examine the PROVEN OPTIONS we have right here in our Ambassador Plenipotentiary Rihanna Fenty!!

Like William Skinner, I am doubtful that WE CAN MAKE THESE BDLP CLOWNS straighten up, and fly right, but I wish encourage average bajans, people WHO DOES NOT FEEL like you are a part of the MOTTLEY solution – we have A VIABLE SUCCESSFUL ALTERNATIVE – FENTY FOR 2023!!!

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Time to Cost Share

Many years ago, I bounced an idea off the late Sir Harold St. John, which we dubbed the 10/10 concept.

Originally the 10/10 concept was geared towards our 100 plus small hotels which, according to the recognised Caribbean definition, is a property under 76 rooms, the typical small hotel on Barbados is closer to 22 rooms.

The objective was to take the average occupancy level during the long eight summer months from 50 to 60 per cent and the four critical peak winter months from 70 to 80 per cent.

The second 10 referred to increasing average room rate by US$10 per night.

To help put this in perspective, our largest private hotel group reported an average of 67 per cent occupancy for the six months ending 31st March 2018. This directly correlates to having up to 588 empty rooms for 60 nights or over 35,000 vacant room nights. If we can collectively find a way to fill these rooms, it’s a win-win for everyone.

The newly appointed Chairman of the soon to be merged Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, (BTMI) and Barbados Tourism Product Authority recently articulated in another branch of the media, that his first mandate will be ‘to give the private sector a much bigger role in running the BTMI’.

The second mandate would be ‘what we call the PPP and the intention is to really get more players to the table, more participation and joining our efforts, in terms of marketing. We have a lot of small hoteliers and a lot of industry players across the island that (who) do their own things in marketing. If we can coordinate that better and be a little more focus with it, I think that we can achieve a lot more in terms of getting results out of the marketing effort that we are putting in’.

To many of us that is music to our ears and a practice that our own efforts have seen as a primary objective for decades. Despite the obvious merits in adopting a collaborative marketing approach, there will always be those wanting to go their own way or not being able to fully comprehend the bigger picture.

But this should not dissuade creative ways of including a greater and more focused sector participation and just as important, the savings associated through cost sharing.

Of course, there are already shining and successful examples of joint co-operation among our tourism entities. The re-DISCOVER dine-around initiative which was initially launched in 2002, now embraces an impressive 65 restaurant partners.

While it continues to operate as a not-for-profit venture, it is fully supported by a car rental company, submarine operator, one of our leading banks, BTMI and the Tourism Development Corporation.

This year re-DISCOVER joined with the travel giant, Expedia and the BTMI under the Brilliant Barbados banner, raising the level of visitor awareness and usage to a record high.

It has also created a platform to support major sporting events like the upcoming Rugby Barbados World 7’s where every attendee and participant will be given added value.

I sincerely wish the new BTMI Chairman and his board all the very best. We have extremely challenging times ahead and it will take a concerted unified effort to ensure new innovative plans are effectively implemented.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Minister Symmonds Press Conference Triggers Alarm

Having watched the recent interview with the new Minister of Tourism and International Transport in its entirety, where he concluded that our cruise sector is in ‘a state of deep crisis’, frankly I was quite shocked.

Like many of us who have substantially invested in land-based tourism, we are left with the overwhelming opinion that our cruise competitors continue to contribute a disproportional miniscule amount to promoting Barbados and upgrading the destinations physical appearance.

According to published data, in 2017 the port processed a total of 818,752 cruise ship passengers, of which included 33.5 per cent (222,322) came from the United Kingdom, 28.4 per cent (188,970) from the United States and 12.8 per cent (85,209) from Canada.

Of the overall total, 137,541 stayed overnight, prior or post voyage, presumably in a mixture of accommodation options.

The Minister emphasised the need to upgrade and enlarge both the port and airport if we have any hope of attracting the new larger ships including the Oasis Class vessels which can accommodate over 6,000 passengers plus crew. Industry experts state that 97 new ships are being launched between 2017 and 2026, many of which will have greater capacity than currently in service.

If this is within stated Government’s plan, then where are the funds to ensure this happens, going to be found?

In real terms, our cruise sector already avoids (or even evades) the massive taxes and recently imposed unbudgeted operating costs forced onto our land based tourism providers.

For instance, will the cruise ship companies be obliged to pay the 50 per cent increase in water supplies? And, again, I repeat, will at least those 137,541 stay-over passengers be charged the new US$70 secondary airport tax (Airline Travel and Tourism Development Fee)?

Surely these are not unreasonable questions, so why is the administration reluctant to clearly enunciate the answers?

Hopefully, the newly convened 15 member National Cruise Development Commission will address these and other issues and help to identify and implement creative ways to significantly increase average cruise passenger spend per visit, taking it much closer to the typical spend in other neighbouring Caribbean islands.

Of course no-one should forget that it is in the own cruise operators interest to entice maximum spend on-board and when you consider their access to global sourcing and bulk buying, it is almost folly to think that our land based retailers could compete on anything approaching a level playing field.

So we have to offer, and ensure, that every passenger knows of unique experiences available onshore, if there is any reasonable chance of enticing more of the ships and into Bridgetown and beyond.

Sadly I believe that successive Governments have failed to transform Bridgetown into an attractive capital despite its incredible close proximity to the port. Likewise, the same could be said of Pelican Craft Village, where for decades the tenants have been complaining about the poor marketing of the facility.

And despite the rise in cruise passengers arrivals, albeit with a negative increase in spending, opportunities like the area around the Marshall Hall building have been squandered, when with private/public section co-operation, this could have been transformed into a potential goldmine, incorporating a waterside restaurant ‘village’ similar to Marigot in French Saint Martin.

We live in hope!

The Adrian Loveridge Column – ‘Our Website is Coming Soon’

So an overwhelming mandate for the 60 something percent of eligible voters who cast their preference to deliver the historic victory for the Barbados Labour Party.

A new Minister of Tourism and the first signs for those of us involved in the sector will be to see if that person appointed can resist placing his political cronies onto the board of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., or will common sense and intent prevail by inviting those with genuine proven ability and drive, who will help implement policies and decisions.

For many of us this will be the first indication whether country comes first or we are going to continue in the same partisan ways of the past.

When the Democratic Labour Party came to power ten years ago, a political strategist asked my opinion on whom I thought should be made Minister of Tourism and I candidly admit, I suggested Richard Sealy. Despite having a non-tourism background, at the time I felt that Mr. Sealy had the ability to listen and make informed decisions.

History will prove whether I was right or wrong, but if we ever need a reminder of the importance of failing to listen, 24th May 2018 will remain a long time beacon.

One thing for sure, is that any new administration will have to take some bold and decisive action, if it really wants to return our tourism sector to sustainable profitability.

After reportedly abolishing the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, but in practice simply adding it to land tax demands, the implementation of the ludicrously named National Social Responsibility Levy and then hiking it by 400 per cent, the dismal failure to reduce the promised rate of Value Added Tax on stand -alone restaurants. The granting of unique extraordinary tax concessions to a single entity, the selling off of taxpayer hotel assets at far below the declared market value and lest we forget, the ongoing south coast sewage disaster that has brought a number of long established tourism businesses close to the brink of extinction.

Of course this is now simply elapsed history. The imperative at this stage is to formulate policies and implement plans that will make a positive difference in the short term.

To me there are some very pressing issues. How can any potential investor take a country seriously when, after ten years, a search for a Ministry of Tourism website is greeted by ‘our website is coming soon’?

Is it our major industry or not?

With so many creative people within our tiny 166 square miles, how can it possibly taken up to a decade to design and launch a website?

Those same potential investors are currently confronted with an alarming and dislocated source of essential information, rather than have a single one-shop reference point. Investors must also feel secure that they can repatriate foreign exchange funds they have brought into the country and registered with the Central bank, without time or limit restrictions together with any agreed return on that investment.

Until these matters are seriously and punctually addressed, there will be little incentive for overseas investors to bite the bullet.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Play Your Part, Place Your X

As you have probably noticed the name of this column is Tourism Matters and I make no apology for trying to fixate on this subject and desperately try to avoid what many consider the tribal pit of party politics.

Just days away from a delayed general election, which is the only chance for those entitled to vote, the opportunity to have any influence on how we are governed, I am still amazed that there has not been more constructive discussion on tourism by all the political wannabe’s and private sector leaders that have major interests and investment in the sector.

Despite those sceptics who frequently repeat ad nauseam that we cannot put all our eggs in one basket, they repeatedly do not offer any credible alternative to take us out of our current precarious financial state. If the published or announced arrival figures are even vaguely credible, even taking into account the reduced admitted average stay, this does not fully explain why there appears to be a fall in foreign exchange foreign.

We know that there has been a virtual explosion in alternative accommodation, with one of the largest OTA’s (online travel agencies) recently reporting a staggering 45 per cent growth in this form of lodging last year alone for Barbados.

Of course, as a destination, we do not actually know the full extent and number of rooms in this previously non-traditional type of accommodation offerings. Without the long awaited registration and licensing promised by successive administrations, we probably will never have an accurate room count.

And that means there is no effective method of calculating the fiscal benefit, both in terms of lodging rental or any taxes collected to the country.

Over decades many of us have called and vocally lobbied to have this worrying situation effectively dealt with, seemingly in vain. Initially, a self funding and regulating system could be simply implemented and only those who comply, would directly benefit from the tens of millions of taxpayers monies spent on destination promotion and marketing.

We are also currently walking a tightrope of protecting a destination reputation that has taken two generations to grow and build, but seem to be content to risk losing this iconic status by not invoking minimum standards of safety, health and accountability.

The other area of great concern to me is the perceived reluctance of our many financial institutions to lend to tourism projects at affordable interest rates. A recent full page print ‘ad’ offered 100 per cent mortgages at 3.40 per cent annual percentage rate. Try and get that for a tourism related business and certainly from our experience you will be met with an almost overwhelming demand for 4 or 5 times the loan required in guarantees.

Is a residential house really a lower risk, as against a growing business that will hopefully expand to provide jobs, taxes and generate local consumer demand?

There is a real timely need to look as our bankers spread, when they are currently paying miniscule deposit interest rates, while at the same time introducing regular higher charges for reduced levels of service.

While I would not dream of even attempting to influence who to vote for, I sincerely hope that those tens of thousands of disillusioned voters make the effort to place their X, as it is the only way we can play any part in the democratic system.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Wooing Long Stay Visitors

Adrian Loveridge

We now have over 36 weeks or more than 250 days to maximise our visitor arrivals numbers before normal climatic global conditions return with the start of a new winter season.

Frankly our summers have always been a challenge and whatever spin we put on this long running scenario, there are little more than band-aid solutions available, if we are going to be totally honest.

Of course events can play a critical role in helping maintain the numbers, but there is so much more we have to be doing in the background, to compete in an increasingly diverse and attractive choice of affordable destinations.

One of the areas I believe needs a great more attention is our long stay repeat visitor market, especially those with second homes on island.

How can ‘we’ encourage them to spend more time on Barbados?

Probably one of the biggest deterrents, are the relatively high cost of airfares, but there are still enormous opportunities here, if we look further. Many of our second home owners are retired or approaching retirement. They do not necessarily have to travel on peak travel days like Saturdays or Sundays, but are able to fly on traditionally quieter Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

With a little research and creativity there are also relative ‘bargains’ out there which with some flexibility can help with the overall cost.

An example is using American Airlines AAdvantage miles one way from Barbados to Heathrow via Miami where selective journey dates are available for 32,500 miles and US$52.91 in taxes and add-ons.

Of course you still have to a purchase flight in the opposite direction but with no VAT on British purchased flights, that’s a saving of at least 17.5 per cent when compared with tickets bought in Barbados.

And there are several options including Norwegian Air from Gatwick via Fort Lauderdale with JetBlue with fares from GB Pounds 233.

When the current Government introduced the 2 per cent levy on locally issued credit card purchases to supposedly dampen overseas purchases requiring foreign exchange usage, perhaps like many, I personally thought, it was highly unlikely to curb demand.

As we import the vast majority of consumed products, often costing twice the price of the identical item from where it is shipped, that concept was never going to work, quite simply. To combat this, my guess is the vast majority of people, including myself, switched to alternative methods of payment like American Express, Discover and Diners Card where this opportunist tax does not apply.

Using miles to reduce the cash cost of flights also allows both locals and visitors to break the journey, especially via Miami, but it could also apply to Toronto or Montreal as well. The return of a direct American Airlines New York service and possibly other gateways would greatly increase other options.

Even taking into account an overnight hotel in one or both directions, the savings over Barbadian prices for personal consumables would more than make up for this expense.

Over the years, sadly the use of miles to drive additional volume has not been given the attention I believe it deserves. And I can only think the reason behind this is that our tourism policymakers and planners do not even think of the potential, as they probably travel on full fare tickets.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Barbados is a Culinary Destination

Adrian Loveridge

Our tourism planners and policymakers have declared 2018 as ‘The Year of Culinary Experiences’ and without doubt, this presents an incredible opportunity to showcase across all markets our vast choices of eating options.

Over the next months substantial marketing and media attention will be given to promoting this concept and I urge all our range of dining establishments to wholeheartedly support these efforts, to reinforce the hard earned reputation Barbados has established, with an almost unparalleled choice of eateries, and often referred to as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.

Hopefully too, we can involve all the suppliers, distributors and wholesalers that currently supply our hospitality sector and will largely benefit from increased volume. And perhaps the banks and financial institutions will play their part by offering enhanced benefits for those frequenting the participating restaurants and paying by the various credit and debit card options.

Maybe a weekly dinner-for-two prize on offer, for those patrons selecting a particular method of payment!

Since the launch announcement at the last World Travel Market in London, we as a destination, have already received massive overseas media coverage of the year long event, including such diverse reportage as Viestra Magazine, eTurboNews, TravelPulse, The Star, TripAdvisor, Perth Caribbean Association, Toronto Star, Caribbean 360, Frankfurt (Germany) Live, Heart, Just Travel Deals, The Telegraph (UK), Trinidad Guardian, Twitter and Enroute, the Air Canada in-flight magazine.

This promotional value cannot be understated.

If it was paid-for advertising, the entire public and private tourism sector could not justify the cost.

Last month the Minister of Tourism for Jamaica stated that ‘an entrepreneurial training and coaching programme to assist local farmers to better understand the tourism industry, will be introduced in the first quarter of this year’. Adding ‘It is really about sensitizing farmers about the demand for tourism products that they can supply and also to use the applications (apps) that we are creating to access certain information that will connect them to buyers’.

According to the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, ‘We will be using food festivals as a strategic marketing tool to tap into the lucrative gastronomic tourism market’. And ‘to ensure that more of the earnings from the tourism industry are retained locally’.

I really hope that we can follow this example and finally dispel any widespread notion that ‘we’ are not all in this together with a common purpose and objective.

Personally, after five decades in tourism, I have absolutely no doubt that our cherished visitors want to sample more locally available products and produce and frankly it’s the only scenario that makes any ultimate economic sense.

Increased shipping costs and settlement charges together with recently imposed unbudgeted higher taxes makes this an imperative to find more locally available solutions, which is now even more critical to fiscal recovery.

We have come to that stage when the talking has to stop and the implementation takes place, before any further erosion of viability and sustainability disappears from one of our last remaining foreign currency and employment contributing sectors.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – COPA!

Adrian Loveridge

The announcement of the long awaited twice weekly (Tuesdays and Fridays) direct service by COPA from Panama to Barbados is great news in my humble opinion and offers infinite possibilities for us to grow arrival numbers out of Central and South America. Not just from Panama alone, but the incredible hub and spoke system that COPA operates, which in the majority of cases offers seamless connections without further customs and immigration control and baggage re-checking, within an average of 90 minutes for most connecting flights.

COPA currently services 75 destinations across 31 countries and last year carried 13.5 million passengers. This year that number is expected to rise to 14.4 million helped by the introduction of new aircraft including the fuel saving state-of-the art Boeing B737 Max 9 and 10 fitted with the quieter CFM International LEAP-1B engines and according to the manufacturers offers the lowest cost per seat mile anywhere.

COPA already boasts one of the youngest airline fleets in the Americas with an average aircraft age of 7.2 years (source:

The Barbados service will initially be operated by the smaller Brazilian made Embraer 190 with a seating capacity of 94 passengers, carrying 10 business class and 84 in economy.

Commenting on the new route which is expected to start in July, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, William “Billy’ Griffith stated ‘The COPA service, I consider, is our best attempt to date to develop sustained, successful service out of the Latin American market. COPA already has service to some Caribbean destinations and they have a very strong COPA vacations department which will be key to our marketing efforts’.

No arguments there. From a Panama perspective, we have the historic ties and canal building connection to build on.

While our cruise ship options are limited during the summer months, perhaps there is scope for a home porting opportunity, joining or leaving Panama or Barbados with a nonstop flight link.

Hopefully too, our various foreign diplomatic missions will step up to the plate and attract trade missions to give our tourism industry (among others) greater choices of sourcing essential consumables.

While it’s almost twenty years since last visiting Brazil, I still vividly recall the agro producers and processors and the almost limitless selection of fruits, vegetables and seafood options available at highly competitive prices. Air freight can often be just as profitable, based on a weight-to-weight comparison with human passengers, so maybe our distributers and wholesalers will also explore these new possibilities.

All our tourism partners, if they have not already, should also consider adding a Portuguese and Spanish language translation icon and link on their websites to allow potential travellers to better research the destination and its attractions.

Of course new routes are only sustainable if the flights operate close to capacity in both directions and we can only hope that COPA will adopt the model that some of our low cost carriers have successfully used to drive new business by offering attractive fares.

A huge advantage will be, in many cases, that you will be no longer forced to fly nearly four hours to the north, connecting in Miami and fly the same time and distance south again, to reach a South American city.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism the EXPERIENCE

Adrian Loveridge

The United Kingdom travel trade press reported that over 3 million Brits booked their 2018 holiday during the week immediately following Christmas, possibly influenced by what has become mostly unseasonal cold weather.

The top ten most popular destinations were: 1) Spain, 2) USA, 3) Italy, 4) Greece, 5) France, 6) Portugal, 7) Caribbean, 8) Australia, 9) Canada and 10) Cyprus.

Perhaps a little surprising, is that the United States is way up there, despite the weakened value of Sterling, but still perceived as offering exceptional value-for-money. All indications are that the USA will be stronger than ever, with an estimated one million more Brits looking to travel across the Atlantic in 2018 when compared to 2017.

Clearly airline choice, increased competition, larger aircraft and availability have all contributed to this, together with opening up of over ten new UK/USA routes.

While Spain led the popularity ratings, according to the ATOL (Air Travel Operating Licence) survey, which arrived at the figures through a sample survey of 4,000 holidaymakers, but geography or demographics had some influence on this.

The London bubble sees those from the Capital bucking the trend when it comes to travel. Only 7 per cent of those that live in London see Spain as their next holiday, compared to a national average of just under a quarter (23 per cent).

Possibility this reflects on fact that London is often referred to as being one of the most expensive cities to live in the world and that drives their residents to consider more exotic locations. A point that I am sure is not lost with our tourism planners and marketers.

The research also found that when it comes to booking holidays, top priority for consumers include guaranteed sunshine, a nearby beach and even access to British TV channels. An interesting topic for our television, cable and satellite providers to ponder on perhaps!

I recently signed up for a free one hour of British television per day via a service called TV Mucho which can be turned into a 24/7 provision, for as little as Euro 4 per month subscription.

As we try and target our tourism product more towards the millennials, the survey concluded for the younger generation, the top three priorities for a holiday include ‘good wifi’, 35 per cent, ‘free data roaming, 15 per cent and ‘instagrammable locations’ 10 per cent.

Food offerings continue to be increasingly important, especially for the more mature travellers.

2018 has been designated ‘The Year of Culinary Experience’ which presents our restaurants, together with all the various eating options the opportunity to partner with catering and drinks suppliers to cement the reputation we have collectively built within the Caribbean, for unparalleled lunch and dining choices.

This is going to be critical to the success of this year long ‘event’.

The anticipated media and press coverage that will be gleaned from this promotion will well eclipse the paid-for advertising that may be contemplated, even during challenging economic times and the marketing funds became available.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Hands on Management a Plus

Adrian Loveridge

Last week I spent well over 30 minutes on the phone speaking to the locally based Managing Director of a multinational company which has a major presence in Barbados. It was a result of a quality control issue on a recent small purchase. Quite simply the conversation was a revelation and it brings in focus just how many hoops, hurdles and unbudgeted additional expenses our private sector is forced to endure if they hope to survive, let alone flourish.

While our private sector has recently received a government bashing from certain ill-informed sources, there are of course, always at least two sides of every story or scenario.

If I recall accurately, when a journalist asked the late hotel mogul, Lord Forte, what was the deciding factor which influenced him buying a particular hotel? He responded by saying that he went into the closest lavatory to reception and if it was spotlessly clean, that was a clear indication that it was a well managed hotel and worth acquiring.

In my particular case, there was absolutely no obligation that the managing director had to contact me either by phone or email. But he did, rather than delegate the task to a lesser mortal, and it clearly demonstrates, at least to me, the imperative of attention to detail and the critical role it plays in retaining customer loyalty.

Some years ago, while my Mother-in-Law was staying with us, sadly fell and broke her shoulder in two places. It was obvious that she could not fly back to the UK on the scheduled day of travel. So I contacted the local office of the airline, which at that time still existed, fully expecting to pay a change of date fee. They refused, stating I had to book and pay for a full fare single ticket.

Having flown with British Airways many times, up to seven return flights per year to Barbados alone, and in the past with group bookings during my time with Swiss tour operator, Globus Gateway, I called the then Chief Executive Officer, Sir Colin (later Lord) Marshall. He was busy on the phone, but his secretary assured me that the call would be returned and within a few minutes he personally called back.

In his legendary calm and controlled voice, Sir Colin said ‘Adrian, please just pay for the ticket with a credit card and we will ensure it is fully refunded’. True to his word, it happened and I was left thinking what incredible attention to detail and hoped that one day, I might reach that level of positive response.

So often in tourism, we do not get a second chance to ensure the very best experience is delivered, so ‘hands-on’ management is essential, especially in a modern socially media driven world. Our tourism planners and policymakers can do everything right, but all it takes is an initially tiny problem not to be dealt with in an expeditious and transparent manner for all to witness and be assured by.

A recent classical example is the South Coast Sewage saga.

Some politicians they may think there is voting mileage in criticising the private sector, especially among the less versed electorate, but my advice to them is to look in the mirror and ask – have I done all that I could have?