Adrian Loveridge Column – Good News for Travel Industry

All early indications are that at least one positive thing will come out of a post COVID 19 crisis for our tourism industry. So many regular visitors have been confronted, frustrated and generally challenged by the battle to secure refunds from airlines, online travel companies and tour operators, that I believe will result in a massive trend to book directly next time, largely eliminating the intermediaries from the process.

ABTA, the British travel association, while issuing guidance to its members, many companies have ignored this advice and dictated their own rules in terms of cash refunds and credit vouchers relating to monies pre-paid in good faith for flights and holidays yet to be taken.

This has left UK consumers questioning the relevance of the organization in their eyes and driven many to seek alternative recompense through their credit card issuers and Small Claims Court. Essential reading for anyone considering booking a future holiday will be the Which Publication Report on the performance of travel firms and airlines in respect to the time taken in refunding.

Several of the same tour operators have, for want of a kinder term, threatened hotels with deferred payments devoid of interest, for stays already completed, fully aware that many accommodation providers are already fighting for economic survival.

To fight back some of our hotels have been very proactive by offering vouchers directly to guests which can be redeemed for future stays.  An example is to buy a voucher at this time for say US$100, which will have an actual enhanced redemption value of US$115 or even US$125 towards a room for a chosen forward date, yet to be decided. This makes sense in a number of ways and can be a win-win for all involved.  The hotel could help reduce any borrowings they have incurred during these difficult times and therefore interest payable, while at the same time, attracting a higher percentage of direct bookings.

These will then not be subject to the substantial rack rate discounts the tour operators extract, which are often in the region of 30 or even 40 per cent off published room prices.
The guests will benefit by receiving added-value, obtaining a product which would normally cost, considerably more.

Those individuals, who may worry about the viability of the supplier (hotel or villa), can choose to pay by credit card, which has in many cases, the prospect of both earning miles towards their flight, while giving added financial protection in the case of not receiving the service as advertised.

Our regular return arrivals may also consider that the quickest way they can help restore their favourite holiday spot back to recovery, is to ensure that every very possible dollar and cent finds its way to Barbados.

This well could be a better all-round solution than risking, in many cases, further limited savings, which remain offshore for a prolonged period in the bank account of some intermediary that still owes its customers and accommodation providers, tens of millions of dollars.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Booking the Best Deal

Adrian Loveridge

I have recently spent, what seemed like an extraordinary amount of time and research, mostly driven by budgetary restraints, planning an upcoming trip to the southern state of Georgia in the USA. There are so many of what can only be described as untruths and misconceptions in the tourism industry, it is small wonder that so many people book what has become known as a ‘package tour’.

If however you take the independent booking option, then expect to have to undertake considerable investigative work if you wish to end up with anything remotely close to the best value for money.

Timing can be almost everything. The magical booking period often appears around three weeks prior to actual travel dates. Surprisingly where you live can also make a massive difference. How many people for instance are fully aware that many major car rental companies charge a different rate for an identical car and duration of hire, depending on where your normal country of residence is?

The compact car I eventually booked cost US$137 for a week with all the taxes, insurance, and additional charges included. It had the added convenience of collection and return to the airport terminal. Had I resided in the UK or USA, the matching rental would have cost around US$100 more.

Since the recent imposition of the Foreign Exchange Fee (FXF), it now makes a price difference of how you choose to pay. In this case using my American Express card avoids the extra 2 per cent tax, while still giving valuable insurance cover.

And that raises another important point. Most people can understand the logic of dampening the demand for foreign currency, but for many, there is simply no plausible alternative. Should those of us in tourism, eliminate or severely curtail overseas sales trips with the knock-on effect that may have on net national earnings?

Personally I think our local banks will become more creative by reducing or eliminating annual credit card fees and offer more cash back and rewards options to at least partially offset the FXF tax.

With minimal lending opportunities and low interest rates, the merchant discount rate, which averages between 1 – 3 per cent extracted by the banks from credit and debit card use, is far too important for them to allow a substantial reduction in card spending.

Government must realise by now that the dramatic fall in general spending driven by the increase in NSRL tax will result in the collection of less VAT, so in other words, entirely counter-productive and not remotely achieving the administration’s stated objective.

Now moving on to my lodging requirements!

Several large hotel groups promise the lowest room rates are only available when booked through their own websites. In my experience this is often simply not true and one wonders how the regulatory advertising authorities allow them to get away with it.

I also have little faith or belief in comparison search websites like Trivago and alike. For my particular choice, Trivago was a staggering 48 per cent more expensive for the same hotel, room and dates.

Again it’s frequently down to timing because each property approaches closer to its latest sell-by arrival date and finding the right access through a minefield of booking engine choices.

Personally, to maintain any brand loyalty and give, often repeat guests the most competitive deal possible, hotels should ensure that they really live by the stated criteria of ‘book online for the best rates’. Savvy travellers will soon discover the realities and ignore blatant and sometimes misleading mission statements.


Jean Holder resigned two years ago but continues to perform the role as Chairman.

Jean Holder resigned two years ago but continues to perform the role as Chairman.

We were asked to share the following article with the BU family. Although against our policy which is to be original in our postings sometimes we have to concede when there is merit in deviating from policy.

Business: LIAT’s turning point?


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

THE Caribbean is a diverse multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-culinary, multi-genre (musical) and multi-lingual region officially made up of an archipelago of islands and selected mainland emerging territories nested between North and South America, Central America in the West and the Atlantic Ocean in the East, in and bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

The 17 English heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (7); South (7) and West (3) with an estimated population of six million, including the mainland territories of Belize and Guyana. The six French heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (5) and South (1) with an estimated population of 17.2 million, including the mainland territory of French Guiana. The seven Dutch heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (3); South (1) and West (3) with an estimated population of 0.8 million, including the mainland territory of Suriname. The three Spanish heritage administrations in the Caribbean sea are all in the North with an estimated population of 22.5 million, including the US territory of Puerto Rico. There are 33 Caribbean administrations with a total population of 46.5 million, albeit over managed, which is not to be ignored as a geographical market to be explored within the wider Latin American and Caribbean region.

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Transportation Feedback

Submitted Ready Done

Last night I was in the Fairchild street bus terminal and low and behold the entrance still has not been fixed. It has been in the current state for more than 10 years. It seems there was a serious attempt to fix it about three weeks ago. Instead, the first gate now not accessible, reducing overall passenger flow by one third. The nation’s leaders are currently saying the working class is lazy and unproductive, the average bus traveler spends 2 hours a day in the bus terminal, this translates to 10 hours a week or about 21 full days of a year sitting in the bus terminal. What a unproductive use of time.

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Attractive Hamburg Route Offers Possibilities

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

According to recent media releases, European travel giant TUI will operate direct charter flights fortnightly from Hamburg, Germany’s second city and the sixth largest in the European Union commencing November 2013. This will give Barbados two routes from the most travelled per capita population in the world, adding northern Germany to the current Frankfurt flight.

The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer estimated that Germans spent US$80.8 billion outside their own country in 2009. The great circle distance of 4,661 miles will mean a flying time of just over 9 hours and the flights will be operated by a B767-300 of a TUI Dutch affiliate ARKEfly, with 265 seats in two classes. Hamburg, is currently the fifth largest airport in Germany, handling nearly 14 million passengers a year, served by 60 airlines to 115 domestic and international destinations.

Justifying, the move which includes other destinations in the region, Christian Clemens, CEO of TUI Deutschland Gmbh., stated ‘our choice of Hamburg as a departure airport was very deliberate. We have a unique selling proposition here, because there are, to date, no non-stop long haul flights from Hamburg to the Caribbean or Mexico’. Recent research by the company, revealed that one in four Germans wanted to undertake long-haul travel and market leader TUI is presently experiencing record 30 per cent booking growth in this segment for winter 2013/14. TUI is already Germany’s largest tour operator, with a market share of around 20 per cent.

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What Concessions Did REDjet Receive?

George Hutson, Minister of International Business and International Transport

David Ellis who has become VOB’s goto moderator since the demise of Tony Marshall shared some interesting information today [26/3/2012] to his midday audience. On the subject of REDjet many Barbadians were under the impression REDjet was being treated like a stepchild compared to other airlines who are suspected of receiving subsidies from government. However Ellis received feedback from a source which suggested the following:

To date REDjet has received the following concessions amongst other exemptions and benefits:

  • Exemption of corporation tax for 15 years
  • No personal tax for its expatriate employees
  • Waiver of import duties on aircraft spares
  • Waiver of taxes on lease of aircraft
  • No withholding tax on dividends or investment income
  • No withholding taxes on interest from shareholder loans

BU has to thank our email correspondent [JD] who ensures BU remains informed on most issues.

Bear in mind REDjet has been carping about creating a level playing field and the like. What the REDjet experience has exposed is that there is too much wheeling and dealing under a cloak of secrecy. There is absolutely no reason why information about concessions – announced by Ellis – should not have been in the public domain. Here is another example which reinforces the call for the Freedom of Information Act to be enacted with haste. It is taxpayers money and benefits being distributed through its servant, the government of Barbados.

If there is a time for a new order of business to take root, the time is now.

REDjet Grounded!

The ‘sudden’ demise of REDjet has been a talking point in the Caribbean in the last few days. Each day that REDjet remains grounded secures another nail in its coffin. It would be a pity if this airline goes belly up the way of Carib Airlines and others before it.

It is perplexing how two local backers of REDjet, Messrs Kyffin Simpson and Bizzy Williams, would attempt to launch a low budget airline before securing all the regulatory approvals. The result of which compromised its finances or so it seems.

What went wrong?

It is hard to believe these two men who can boast of successful track records in business would commit what seem to be basic errors in judgement.

A scan of the Trinidad media space has revealed that Barbados is being short changed by how the REDjet issue is being communicated. Read the following article reproduced from the TT Guardian to see why.

Link to article:   Decision to ground REDjet takes Caribbean by surprise

REDjet Sabotaged By Caricom: The Big Two Jamaica And Trinidad

Two events occurred in the news this week which confirmed to BU that Caricom is in a coma. A mini-Caricom summit held in Guyana saw four heads absent, Prime Minister of Trinidad among them. In the obligatory end of summit communiqué which nobody reads except Rickey Singh, the heads advised the world implementation of a common currency would be further delayed until a review of the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat. Have to admit the decision was a surprise, in fact the Caribbean is still in shock!

The other happening was REDjet’s decision to cancel plans to fly the Trinidad and Jamaica air routes. It is no secret both Jamaica and Trinidad have frustrated REDjet’s application to operate its low-cost airline between Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. Barbados and Guyana gave the all clear to REDjet about a month ago.

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The REDjet Revolution

BU has been following the progress of new entrant REDjet to the regional air transport market with interest. Not since Carib Express have we seen a new airline generate so much debate. The airline was approved to fly by the Barbados government albeit after a mountain of bureaucratic hurdles had to be leaped. The airline had to confront a suspicious minister of transport in Jack Warner  in its quest to fly to Trinidad. A recent report suggests permission for REDjet to touchdown at Piarco International Airport should be known when the cabinet meets on Thursday.  It was left to the Guyana government to welcome the airline free of controversy.

If we are to judge by the comments emanating from REDjet management the response to the airline has been overwhelming. Why should this be a surprise to anyone when in recent months it has been cheaper often times to fly to Miami or New York than to Antigua or Jamaica.

It is ironic and exposes the hypocrisy in the region that external players are the ones to attempt to make regional travel affordable. We are not ignoring the contribution of local investor in the airline Bizzy Williams. For decades our political leaders and intellectuals, or should we say pseudo-intellectuals, have pontificated about the importance of freedom of movement to the success of the regional integration movement. However they have all failed to deliver a solution which would make regional travel affordable. Barbados, St. Vincent and Antigua are the major shareholders in LIAT which currently has the monopoly on regional transport between the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Whether because of mismanagement or a flawed business model LIAT has been a generator of debt for its shareholders and venerable Chairman Doctor Jean Holder through the years. The less written about Caribbean Airlines and Air Jamaica the better.

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Questions Asked Of AIRONE's REDjet

Submitted by Mr. Thompson


What’s really the objectives behind the proposed Airone/Redjet low cost airline.


  • Is it practical to operate MD82, old generation, aircraft on a 15 minute route structure ?
  • Are $9.99Bds fares realistic or practical ?
  • Can REDJET compete with the heavily subsidized LIAT ?
  • Will the FAA grant the airline access to the proposed USA market ?
  • Why did Jamaican Government not allow Airone to set up operations in Jamaica ?
  • Who is the major Barbadian investor listed in the USA Exception Application ?
  • Does Barbados Government Civil Aviation organization have the expertise, experience, regulations etc. to approve, monitor and regulate a heavy commercial passenger carrier ?
  • Are two proposed aircraft sufficient to operate an on time scheduled passenger service considering weather, mechanicals, maintenance etc. ?
  • What Liability Insurance has Barbados demanded of RedJet ?

The above questions cause me some concern; as the saying goes –

if it looks to good to be true then it probably is.

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Mind Your (tourism) Business

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

I am particularly happy to hear of the airline breakthrough with respect to establishing direct air links between Barbados and Brazil. It has not altered my not backing Brazil to win the football World Cup, but it has certainly created enormous concepts in my mind for modernizing the tourism product.

Several commentators to date have zoomed in on inherent challenges in filling those airline seats, I am more inclined to approach the topic from the opportunity it provides for us create a first rate destination. We are blessed with such natural tourism attributes as year round sea, sand and sun, but somehow I get the impression that as a population, we assume sometimes that other features will take care of themselves and do not necessarily need nurturing and sustaining.

In a discussion such as this, the issue of price always arises but I am not persuaded that Barbados, in the context of the destinational altitude that it flies, is any more expensive than comparable locales. Dollar for dollar, in the context of what tourists normally buy, we are no more expensive than Jamaica, Bahamas and definitely not Cayman Islands or Bermuda. In relation to Europe and North America, pound for pound, dollar for dollar you get as much or more here in Barbados as you do for the said output in any of the very popular shopping, entertainment and leisure ports of call.

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Congrats To BTA On Securing GOL Flight From Sao Paulo

Submitted By Adrian Loveridge

Richard Sealy, Minister of Tourism

Just for the record, I would like to applaud all those involved in securing the direct non-stop flight from GOL flight from Sao Paulo including the Minister of Tourism, BTA, Barbados Diplomatic Corp and BHTA. It is a tremendous achievement, and I believe it offers the very best option in terms of route, carrier, duration of flight, connecting city possibilities and gateway.

From comments made by the Minister in the media, he is not expecting every flight to be full in the initial operating period, and however sceptical some may be about this foray into South America, this is in my humble opinion is a very realistic approach. I would, though, offer some suggestions how, perhaps, more of those seats could be filled by specifically targeting niche markets.

I think that we should break down 60 of the available 150 seats per flight and set some achievable goals and objectives.

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David Rice, Did You Do That?

David Rice, new President and CEO of Barbados Tourism Authority

Here is what Nation Columnist Kammie Holder is reporting on his Facebook Page. BU found the little comment to be very instructive:

I could not believe my eyes when I saw an Audi A4T, registration ML634 at 14:22 hours make a right turn up Collymore Rock, from the old Service Commission premises. Are you still wondering why little boys ride on the opposite side of the road? Can anyone tell us who drives this vehicle?

Three hours later here is what he found out:

After checking with my sources I have come to learn the car is the property of the BTA and was driven by the CEO Mr David Rice. The temptation to take short cuts but you never know who is watching!

The above is an example of what is so wrong with our little country.

Tourism In Perspective

Submitted by Looking Glass

Go back to when America was Virginia and the monument of the Greek Prince, George Washington’s grand-father in St John’s church yard; Barbados has always been a tourist Mecca for the rich and famous, not for the average soul. It was in the 1940s-50s that the West and South Coasts became established as tourist resort areas. It was a ‘natural’ process that required little government spending.

The development of tourism as an industry got started in the Development Decade of the 1960s when banks and agencies, their coffers overflowing, sought investment opportunities in the developing countries (LDCs). The OECD touted tourism as the saving grace for the LDCs, the source from whence all goodness flowed. The World Bank (1972) said it was a more efficient earner of net foreign exchange, the IADB concluded that tourism benefits were not limited to economic considerations. For us it meant a huge investment in infrastructure and indebtedness.

In time hotels sprang up, most catering not to the rich but to the average person. By the late 1970s we were faced with excess capacity. This at a time of world economic prosperity. Many hotels and guest houses have since disappeared but we continue to add accommodation in an unstructured industry. In essence we invested billions in infrastructure to accommodate the low income tourists, but the largest amount of tourist revenue came from and continues to come from the West and North Coasts.

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American Airlines In The News

Thanks to GoWEB Caribbean for sending the images.

Recently we witnessed the spectacular but scary pictures of an American Airlines flight broken into pieces like a child would a stick of macaroni. According to other news American Airlines has suffered two other mishaps although not as serious as AA Flight 311.

Should would be passengers be concerned? AA is a major carrier in the Caribbean for inbound and outbound traffic.