Category Archives: Tourism

BU brings you the up to the minute news about the #1 sector in Barbados and the Caribbean.

The Composition of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc Board

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

If the media reporting on the recently selected board members of the newly formed Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc is accurate then I have to express enormous surprise at the apparent absence of a senior impartial member of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. It is almost inconceivable that you could not include someone who has a vested financial interest in the sector with proven experience and that would contribute to how the island is marketed. To me it raises the question of what is the purpose of the board.

Is it there to ensure due diligence, accountability and that monies are spent in the most cost effective and productive way or is it simply for political window dressing. If a sufficient number of members of the board are devoid of hands-on experience in marketing a product like a destination, how can it possibly judge if the persons actually managing the entity are doing a good job. Looking at some of the other tourism boards across the region ‘we’ appear to be moving away from the model that other holiday competitors are using successfully to generate increased visitor arrivals and spend.

There are also several other issues. Surely this is a time when all vested interests should be working closely together to maximise results. According to recent media reports and documents contained on the website of the Inter-American Development Bank a loan of US$20 million (BA-L1033) is being negotiated with Government for the stated ‘objective to promote tourism, trade and investment between Barbados and Latin America’.

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Great Expectations for Tourism

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

A report of 8 percent increase in long stay visitors from the UK over the same period last year is very encouraging news. As often highlighted, it’s not just about the numbers, but the fact that the average British visitor stays longer and spends more, which is an equally important factor. But with good news, it is often accompanied by bad and in this case the fall of the value of Sterling against the US Dollar resulting in Barbados again being perceived as a higher cost destination.

What could be the saving grace is the four year low price of oil and the effects that may have when it filters through to energy prices including electricity, water, distribution and airfares. How long Government takes to positively respond to the dramatic fall will send a very important message to the industry.

For any obviously cash-strapped administration it’s a two edge sword. Lower fuel prices means less VAT collection, but if we are able to maintain a prolonged recovery in arrival numbers then this should be largely mitigated.

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Accountability in the Tourism Sector a Must

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Sadly it would appear we are losing the summer weekly Thomas Cook (TC) Manchester flight from early May 2015. Perhaps there is sufficient surplus capacity on the Virgin Atlantic Monday flights, but TC provided a lower cost option for many and while we are lacking in empirical evidence, my guess is that this flight was used by many people who have a second home in Barbados and/or who stay in our lower priced accommodation options.

While Virgin currently retains their larger once-a-week B747 on the Manchester service during the low season, it may not prove a challenge at all. But if they decide to change equipment to the smaller A330 as they did from Gatwick, clearly less capacity and more demand will lead to the inevitable higher air fares and deter the more budget conscious holidaymaker who largely keeps the industry afloat during the eight long summer months.

For travel in April 2015, a return flight from Manchester with Thomas Cook is presently available at GBPounds 376. With Virgin the cost is GBPounds 638 over a similar period. In fairness luggage and meals are ‘extras’ with TC, but there is still a huge price differential, particularly if a family of four are considering travelling to Barbados.

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Royal Pavilion Sale: The Benefits

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

While not seeing it reported in our local press up to the time this column was submitted, I noticed a recent media release announcing the sale of Fairmont Royal Pavilion by its owners Quebec based Ivanhoe Cambridge, the global real estate company with a quoted property portfolio value of Cdn$40 billion across 20 countries. Ivanhoe Cambridge is a subsidiary of one of Canada’s leading institutional pension fund managers.

What immediately stood out of this sale was the description ‘set on more than 17 acres of landscaped tropical gardens’. With only 72 hotel rooms and a three bedroom villa, even when fully occupied (150 persons) that would give a staggering almost 5,000 square feet of land space for each guest. If you are trying to visualise that, then just think before any additional land is purchased or room stock added, Sandals Casuarina currently offers around 778 square feet per guest.

The sales price was not publicly disclosed, but it appears absolutely apparent that the new owners will be seeking to increase the number of rooms either in a hotel model or villa accommodation to justify the acquisition. Only time will tell if we will lose another international brand with a worldwide reputation for excellence, what if any effects there will be on any planned closure and the ultimate long term benefit, as and when any enhanced plant re-opens sometime in the future. Of course, there is a lot of speculation currently and hopefully all will be revealed in the due course of time.

Timing can be everything sometimes.

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A New Start for Tourism

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

When you are working with miniscule marketing budgets, securing sponsorship is absolutely critical to the overall success of most promotions. The secret is to ensure that any sponsor ‘investing’ in a bigger picture project achieves a cost effective return. That cannot be done without a careful evaluation of potential linkages and mutual benefits.

Quoting from a well known business publication, ‘Sponsorship should not be confused with advertising. Advertising is considered a quantitative medium, whereas sponsorship is considered a qualitative medium’. Beneficial partnerships can add tremendous value and credibility, especially if increased sales and market share can be directly measured to the strategic alliance. It also makes it far more likely that the sponsor would be willing to support future ventures.

There are many creative ways that the process can be enhanced. For instance with our current dine-around initiative we persuaded a major distributor to offer a range of wines at a special rate to our restaurants partners, allowing a greater net return for the individual establishments and growing the suppliers market share. Other sponsors have a monthly option of offering one or more of their products at reduced prices.

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Support Local: re-Discover Program a Hit

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

While I can see the attraction of corporate Barbados offering Caribbean cruises as competition prizes or sales inducements, it is difficult to accept what if any real benefit the country gleans from the exercise. Payment almost certainly would ultimately be made in foreign currency (FX) to ship operators who legally avoid any significant taxation and largely employ extra regional crew.

We have been heartened at the initial response to recent launch of re-DISCOVER REWARDS vouchers by local companies, especially as many of those who have responded are looking at it from a national perspective. These businesses have made a considered decision to help protect Barbadian jobs, whether directly in the hospitality industry or sub-sectors like agricultural, food and wine distribution. Many of the participating restaurants have also made a conscious effort to use locally available produce which again helps retain the FX and hopefully spread earned revenue right across the society.

While not wanting to use this column for propaganda or promotion, I just wonder how many people have figured out that this initiative is, to the best of my belief, absolutely unique across the Caribbean. It is a point that has not gone unnoticed by both our tourism planners and potential visitors to Barbados. It was truly heart warming to receive a social media posting from a professor in Canada recently, who stated that one of the deciding factors why they chose us over another Caribbean island was the fact they could eat every night of their stay at a different affordable restaurant, even over a three week stay.

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Tourism Sector a Cadre of Beggars

Submitted by William Skinner
James Paul, CEO, Barbados Agricultural Society

James Paul, CEO, Barbados Agricultural Society says No MOU, no grant

The granting of concessions to the hoteliers, is a capitulation on the part of the Barbados government, which now finds itself with a one step forward two steps backward economic policy; trying to please an essentially lazy and backward corporate class while inflicting serious blows on the already poor and economically downtrodden.

The hoteliers in Barbados have clearly demonstrated that they have failed to capitalize on an industry that has been in existence for over sixty years. They have whined their way into the taxpayers coffers, on the spurious grounds that the concessions granted to the well established Sandals Group should be automatically theirs for the taking. In other words, while very few of them can ever boast or hope to come close, to demonstrating that they can ever reach Sandals’ heights, they have blackmailed the government into giving them similar benefits. It’s akin to a fourth division footballer demanding the same salary and perks of a first division superstar!

Be that as it may, they have also refused to sign on to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will be used to monitor they operating in good faith with the agricultural community and other businesses, to ensure that the process is not exploited. In other words, the government wanted some formal agreement that the benefits will trickle down to local businesses. Low and behold, the BHTA said that it will not sign any MOU. Imagine a beggar being so bold faced, to be a chooser as well! It was very pitiful and embarrassing to witness a minister backing down from this group.

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