Need to Maximize Tourism Budget in the US

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

Frankly I have never understood the seemingly illogical apportionment of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) annual budget and the ways it has been spent across our principal tourism markets. The United States stands out as a vivid example. In the five years 2003-2007, we welcomed 654,281 American long stay visitors. For the same duration 2008-2012, that number (661,646) grew by a minuscule 7,365 persons or an increase of just 1.1 per cent, which barely represents an incremental annual average of 0.2 per cent.

During that same second period, our neighbour, St. Lucia, recorded a 4.6 per cent improvement of US arrivals. Hardly spectacular, but with all those throwing their hands up in the air, while shouting APD (Advanced Passenger Duty), recession, global economic meltdown and all the other possible excuses, is nothing to be ashamed of.

What continues to be puzzling is why ‘we’ continue to spend the lion’s share of the BTA budget in the US market, without being able to achieve a meaningful return on ‘our’ investment. More overseas offices, staff, airline subsidies, the legendary per diem and other expenses, than any other major source, but little or nothing to show for it! For instance compare the exact same period with Canada, which grew by 35 per cent (87,339 extra arrivals) or an average of 7 per cent per annum. The imminent withdrawal of American Airlines on the New York route is just one part of the problem. Yes! Our policymakers are scrabbling around trying to find alternative carriers to meet the loss of seats, but what exactly is the plan to fill them?

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