Trying to Unravel Government’s Tourism Marketing Strategy

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Is the predicted 6 or 7 percent fall in long stay visitors during the month of January directly as a result of reduced promotional expenditure by the national marketing agency, and if so, has anyone put a dollar value on the consequential loss of tax revenue collected by Government?

Is this yet another example of a failed policy decision, as when Government increased the level of VAT, only to find the overall amount gathered, went down and not up? According to the Central Bank (CBB)  from $683.4 million in 2011 to $666.6 million in 2012.

A 6 percent decrease in arrivals when compared to January 2012 would represent 3,157 less people and 7 percent 3,683. Last January was already down over the previous year, albeit only by 0.8 per cent according to CTO figures.

What we should be asking is how much those missing thousands would have spent and is the current dearth of funds to the Barbados Tourism Authority actually costing the industry and the nation’s coffers more than we can imagine.

It doesn’t just end with tax collection, but has to take into account increased benefit payments due to lay-offs and reduced spending by those fully employed. And how will this also impact on overall occupancy levels during the critical four winter months and economy of scale and expense caused as a result of lower lodging levels. Of course these precious winter months also command the highest rooms rates, which in many cases helps the individual hotels limp through the softer summer period.

Are ‘we’ being pennywise and pound foolish?

A regular long stay Canadian visitor asked me why the BTA did not exhibit at the recently concluded Ultimate Travel Show held in Toronto. With a population approaching 6 million people in the Greater Toronto Area, all of which live within an hour’s drive of Pearson International Airport added to which a BTA office in Canada’s largest city, I could not proffer an explanation. Given the climatic conditions, the time of the year and the falling arrival numbers, it didn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Then looking through the exhibitors list and seeing many of our competitors who obviously saw the value of attending the show. Why were ‘we’ not there at a national level? The only Barbadian representative was Swim Barbados Vacations. From the region, those who were present, included Aruba, Belize, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Cuba, USVI, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, SVG and the Turks and Caicos. Of course its not feasible to be at everything, but could not some sort of collective presence with private and public sector partners be organised to avoid, what clearly appears another missed opportunity. Despite the sub-zero temperatures and snow, provisional attendance numbers were over 12,000 persons according to Show Manager, Julie Miller. Clearly, the vast majority visiting the event, were there for the purpose of choosing a holiday. Just maybe, they were influenced to book an alternative destination choice.

Ironically, a large BTA delegation went to the CHTA MarketPlace which took place days earlier in The Bahamas. With the obvious lack of promotional funds, perhaps this event was deemed more likely to be cost -effective than the one in Canada and could result in driving higher visitor numbers.

0 responses to “Trying to Unravel Government’s Tourism Marketing Strategy

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    Check-this-out,

    I read the MOT’s comments with almost total disbelief.

    ‘Hotels are about sleeping’ was the classic comment and clearly demonstrates there is so little understanding about the industry by our policymakers.
    I challenge the MOT that it is not really too late to LEARN. Join me at 4am tomorrow at our little hotel and stay with us until we go off duty at 11pm (if we are lucky) to understand just what a ridiculous comment you have made.
    In your five years, Mr. Minister just how many of around 160 hotels (that are still open) have you visited or stayed in?
    And you are going to ‘intensify the links between tourism and agriculture, heritage and the green economy’. So why haven’t you done that over the last five years?
    What happened to the promised re-structuring of the BTA ?

    Surely, you are not going to blame that on the recession?

  2. Gabriel Tackle

    @Adrian
    They restructured.They sent packing Vertically Challenged L Austin Husbands former Harrison College student and former Barclays Bank clerk now relegated to a Sand Street humbug in his native village.

  3. David why are you promoting St.Lucia tourism?

  4. @Hants

    The objective here is to see what other s are doing especially if some believe they are doing it better than us. How is St. Lucia able to grow in markets where we are losing?

  5. I am going to St. Lucia , then take a ferry to Martinique , from Martinique another ferry to Dominica and then to Guadeloupe by ferry. From Guadeloupe to Antigua by ferry and then a flight to Barbados. A perfect holiday for an islandgal! Thanks David!

  6. “How is St. Lucia able to grow in markets where we are losing?”

    Just look at the video! We should ask what is it we have that others don’t have and how can we improve! Listen folks let us get real, St. Lucia is fresh, it is green. it is pretty, it is CHEAPER than Bim and has more scenic beauty than we have. St. Lucia here I come!

  7. millertheanunnaki

    “David why are you promoting St.Lucia tourism?”

    St. Lucia has many attractions to keep the tourists entertained in a most eco-friendly environment without having to walk through streets strewn with garbage and annoying human pests. Only thing St. Lucia does not have (compared to overly expensive Barbados) for the modern eco-conscious tourist are coral bleached beaches that are no longer the main attraction for those aware of the dangers of skin cancer. They would much prefer to drive or walk through the Soufriere mountains and get a sun tan than to lie on the beaches of Barbados to be harassed continuously by “scruffians” offering sex and drug for sale.

    Until Barbados gets its act back together and offer tourists more to do, less harassment and unsightly garbage pile up, and definitely value for money as advertised in its misleading ads, tourism will continue to go downhill especially in the UK market of which much is known.

  8. RE Barbados video …..”No fast food conglomerates?” I wunder what KFC, Subway and Burger King come under? Hants I got to tell yuh…. We video ent saying a pang! Um telling nuff lies!

  9. Georgie Porgie

    How is St. Lucia able to grow in markets where we are losing?
    ADVERTISING!

    The drive from Castries to the Pitons and Soufriere etc is boring and expensive by taxi.
    The drive from Castries to the North is more like 1792 in Florida-brightly painted houses. There are more interesting tourisy places to go to in Bim and more interesting things to do.

  10. GP it is evident that you are not into natural beauty and that it bores you so that type of tourism is not for you! But wasn’t it you who professed on a similar blog that the Pitons are world renown for their beauty? Like yuh got two faces nuh!

  11. Georgie Porgie

    ISLAND GAL
    I DO LOVE THE PITONS BUT I HATE THE DRIVE TO GET THERE!
    I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED THE PITONS SINCE 71 WHEN I SAW THEM FIRST.
    STILL LOVE THEM. WENT DOWN THERE TWICE BY ROAD LAST YEAR AND ALSO BY SEA

    BUT A RAIN FOREST IS A RAIN FOREST! WE HAVE THEM HERE TOO AS YOU KNOW WELL AS YOU HAVE BEEN ON STOP AND STARE WALKS THROUGH THE GULLIES AND WALKED IN ST JON AND ST ANDREW.

  12. Hants | February 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM |
    David why are you promoting St.Lucia tourism?

    Hants not only David , island gal and the Loveridges of this world promote St. Lucia and the rest of islands over Barbados you would be surprised the number of traitorous locals who do similarly. On the other hand Simon Cowell, Oprah Winfrey,Tony Blair , Rihanna et al sing Barbados praises as the ultimate vacation spot. The dont want to see another Caribbean island.

    The difference is the celebrites dont have an axe to grind. Rihanna spends every moment away from her hectic schedule in Barbados and she could go to the moon with her money. islandgal, David and Loverdige on the other hand denigrate Barbados at every opportunity while urging tourists to go elsewhere. They then turn around to lambaste the GOB for not advertising Bdos.

  13. Georgie Porgie

    FEARLESS
    Actually Sandals ads are often seen on American tv for Sandals, St Lucia- which seems to be sold out for most of the year..So is the Almond brand hotel that we had to sell down there.. The service there was great!

  14. GP we do not have rain forests here we have dry forests, I enjoy both. I love trekking through the bush. We need to plant more trees and have more green areas instead of putting up concrete jungles.

    Fearless yadda yadda yadda!

  15. I am yet to see a contribution that considers the actions of the countries from which we get tourists.

    Major Canadian cities increased their stay in Canada advertising. So did the USA vacation destinations.

    Barbados would have lost market share for this reason and because Bajans are slow to react to change.

    Think about this.

    In 2011, the Toronto region welcomed 9.8 MILLION overnight visitors from over 200 different countries.

  16. @Hants

    By the MoT’s admission we have cut back in advertising because of a lack of money. Did we not post on earlier blogs that feedback from the Bahamas Tourism Conference a few weeks ago the feedback was Barbados’ lack of visibility in the market? This feedback came from the operators in the market.

  17. millertheanunnaki

    @Fearless | February 7, 2013 at 8:22 PM |

    Listen Fearless, no one is putting down Barbados, as you would wont to imply, because of some DLP government. We had DLP governments before and one that pushed tourism big time and even had a white Englishman called Peter Morgan who was an outstanding Minister of Tourism, if not the best.

    What we are concerned about is the sudden deterioration of the standards in the industry and quality of facilities and offerings in recent years.
    All we are asking is to treat the ‘goose that lays the golden forex egg’ with some, if not utmost, respect, care and consideration.

    Do you think that Rihanna could be more Bajan than many of us on this blog?
    We want to see more and better housekeeping standards applied like keeping the place clean (as we used to do before this recent inurnment to filth and unsightly garbage), stop harassing visitors, reduce the crime, offer good service and value for money and diversify our attractions that were once known and enjoyed like Sam Lord’s Castle; Graeme Hall Swamp and Nature Sanctuary; Andromeda Gardens; hiking and arranged round-the-island walks and tours in the gullies; Bajan Helicopters; more diving and snorkeling; more night life involving live shows and performances instead of the continuously loud recorded indiscernible boringly long “wuk-up” music. What has happened to our own local music and live performances?

    We need to do some damage control and offer reassurances to potential visitors given the recent but consistent bad press coverage in our main source market. We need to stop seeing every foreigner or visitor as a potential sucker to be ripped off or easy game for sexual advances or to make a drug sale.

    Is that too much to ask or are we being disloyal sons and daughters because we don’t march to your blind nationalistic and jingoistic come-hell-or-high-water drum of partisan political incompetence?

    Skipper, we want back our Bajan tourism heritage and style of good manners, courtesy, helpfulness and with the goal of fulfilling the visitors’ dream vacation beyond expectation even if they are prepared to pay a premium.
    Anything wrong or unachievable with that mission statement?

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    I for one,are NOT trying to promote St. Lucia or anywhere else over Barbados. I currently, and have for 25 years made my living from tourism in Barbados, I do NOT have any other income or foreign investments. EVERYTHING I have is right here. BUT I KNOW ‘we’ can do better.

    Look at the figures:

    2012 -
    Long stay DOWN 5.5 per cent (31,421 people)
    Cruise DOWN 15.2 per cent (92,408 people)

    The Central Bank Govenor and others have gambled on a good winter season, so lets look at January 2013.

    USA – DOWN 11.1 per cent
    Canada – DOWN 18.4 per cent
    UK – DOWN 2.4 per cent
    Trinidad – DOWN 40.6 per cent

    Overall (all markets) DOWN 8.2 per cent

    There is NO way that we should be DOWN 18.4 per cent from Canada in January and my column (I believe) graphically illustrates some of the reasons.
    If marketing funds are limited then you HAVE to prioritise exactly WHERE you can generate the best return. Its therefore a simple choice, the Bahamas or Canada. Nobody on this planet can convince me that the BTA could not have place a couple of people for a day and a half at the Ultimate Travel Show in Toronto. But there again, its not as sexy as staying in the Bahamas and perhaps they wouldn’t have got there per diem expenses in Toronto.
    I have been absolutely AMAZED at the lack of constructive conversation coming from the current ruling party and total dearth of solutions. In less than two weeks ‘we’ take to the polls and that also applies to the 1,000 plus tourism workers that have lost their jobs over the last year or so.

    Miller, mentioned Peter Morgan and I would also add St. Harold St. John to show that I am not partisan. The BIG difference with these two gentleman is that they knew they did not know all the answers, so they spoke to the people (at all levels) that did.

  19. Adrian Loveridge

    What is being done by the tourism marketing people to maximise the opportunities caused by the current weather conditions in the US and Canada?

  20. What they should be doing is creating a mindset that Barbados has never been cheaper for canadians to travel to because you are tied to the american dollar and we have been trading above par. But they are probably still in the Bahamas because the weather is horrible up here.

  21. millertheanunnaki wrote “Skipper, we want back our Bajan tourism heritage and style of good manners, courtesy, helpfulness and with the goal of fulfilling the visitors’ dream vacation beyond expectation even if they are prepared to pay a premium.
    Anything wrong or unachievable with that mission statement?

    Absolutely brilliant.

    @Adrian Loveridge. You ask very difficult questions.

    I just spent half hour this morning clearing snow so I could drive to work. Then another half hour clearing snow off my car so I could drive home.

    Given that there is a BTA office in the GTA (Toronto) they would have enough evidence to suggest that a little advertising of sun,sand and rum punch could be very effective.

    Buh doan mine me. I ent nuh tour ism expurt.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/02/08/schools_open_but_buses_cancelled_as_storm_hits_gta.html

  22. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants, looking at the GTTA website and seeing the volume of flight cancellations today including perceived sun destinations like Tampa and Orlando, I hope there wasn’t an empty seat on Air Canada or WestJet today to Barbados. The 18 per cent fall in Canadian arrivals for January is a real concern.

  23. Melville said she was concerned about Barbados’ performance “because when you look at the information on tourism the tourist arrivals are lagging behind that of the region”.

    Further concern was the fact that although there was some recovery in UK travel Barbados was still lagging behind other tourist destinations in three region, which she said “suggests that there are some structural issues that are involved in the competitiveness of the sector”.
    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2013/02/08/more-of-the-same/

    The quote above confirms what Adrian et al have been saying. It is good that it comes from a supposedly independent source; Caribbean Development Bank.

  24. Sunwing….air canada vacations last chance to get out of the weather .punta cana varedero jamaica.. myan riviera direct from ottawa etc no Barbados as usual in the travel section…Ottawa has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country.but not on the radar of the barbados tourism undertakers. Big enough city for Rhianna to come play.Home of Mr.Melnyk,s senators, and Berts bar north, your embassy is here, maybe the btu thinks if they advertize when the weather up here is getting better it is probably cheaper than advertizing before the weather gets bad .

  25. Adrian Loveridge

    lawson,

    our 22 rooms are currently full.
    20 are occupied by Canadians and half of that number is occupied by residents of Ottawa.
    I don’t know what it is about the BTA that doesn’t recognise the potential of Ottawa and to, at least try a get a once-a-week direct A319 flight.

    Interestingly, many of our Canadians currently staying, found the fares out of Montreal cheaper than Toronto with Air Canada.

  26. Rhianna is coming here for a show May 2 at Mr. Melnyks stadium now you would think the btu would have a booth or something at the event promoting cropover since Rhianna is the tourism abassador she wouldnt mind them piggybacking on her celebrity.They should have a draw give a trip away, or if that is too expensive give free passess to harrisons cave, free catamaran tickets, etc or even meet Rhianna something,…..anything …get some Barbados cropover buzz. Half full up with ottawans, the party must be on.Are they repeat offenders or why have they chosen Barbados

  27. Can’t keep a good girl down.

    Grammy Award

    Best short form music video: We Found Love, Rihanna

  28. Let me rephrase the above comment.

    Can’t keep a world class talented girl down.

  29. For those unable to travel to Bim, they can take always take a piece home from the LCBO. Mount Gay Silver is featured in the brochure insert in most newspapers this weekend.

    I’ll stick to my Extra Old direct from Bim.

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