Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
While it was very tempting to write about any subject this week other than the Butcherisation I received at the recent Barbados Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, that would have been the easy way out and certainly not in my character. First for the record, I had no intention of offending anyone. In fact I made it abundantly clear in my opening remarks that many of us greatly admire Mr. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and the hotel empire he has spearheaded. I am not so remotely naive to believe that any one person can achieve this alone and a great part of the success is attracting the right people around you. This equally applies whether it is a small or large business. Perhaps what surprises me more than anything is that a person who has received everything he has asked for within weeks and possibly more than we are aware of is so unwilling to respond to legitimate concerns. Especially, while so many who actually live on Barbados have toiled to build the destination’s tourism industry over several decades while being consistently denied similar extraordinary concessions.
Equally baffling were the number of persons present at the event who over the last months had, albeit in the shadows of anonymity, literally moaned about their inability to solicit business from Sandals Barbados but were now cheering their new found ‘super hero’. There is the temptation to name and shame these persons but they know who they are.
Are we really such a Nation of hypocrites?
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
So entirely contrary to all the heady rhetoric that the introduction of Sandals brand will drive additional airlift, from their closure on 1st April for major renovations, in fact the exact opposite will happen. At least until the re-opening slated for December 2014. Quoting their own projected occupancy of an average of 85 per cent with a typical stay of 7 nights and two persons per room, that’s almost 500 lost airline seats per week or a mind boggling 16,000 plus by the end of this year.
Will this further destabilise the remaining carriers that continue to service Barbados and lead to yet more airlines cutting routes or reducing capacity?
Tour operators, already unable to match demand with the high cost of doing business here are considering switching flights to other destinations where they can glean a profit. Once again citizens are left speculating whether our Government was aware and factored in the almost nine months closure with hundreds of hospitality employees being thrown on the unemployment pile, before granting unilateral extraordinary concessions to the group.
Submitted by William Skinner
…we will all learn that seeing big tourist liners and tourists walking about Broad Street is not the answer to our problems…
“Hotels are now doing tours and transfers with their own taxis, and this should not be so. They should use the taxis in their yards to do such tours on a rotation basis and not give the work to these big companies. These kinds of practices should be stopped. Oh how I yearn for Errol Barrow. How do you expect the local people to survive when all the sweets are given to others? Carl Pinder, Nation Newspaper, 2/21/14: Port Taxi men Sucking Salt
While we immerse ourselves in the tantrums and idiocy of both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, there is a growing movement among the poor, and downtrodden that is revealing itself. Those who believe that our nation is only sinking from an economic crisis and essentially uninspiring leadership, across the political divide, are sadly mistaken. We are in the midst of a potentially dangerous social revolt that will have repercussions for at least fifty years, unless we abandon petty party politics and pay attention to those citizens, who have been economically and socially marginalized by both the BLP and DLP.
Nowhere in the economic management of our country, has the poor black business person been more systematically marginalized, than is evident in the multi- billion dollar tourism industry. The industry was hijacked by a ruthless bunch of foreign investors aided and abetted by lazy, almost parasitical local corporate leaders. They refused to invest in the country that has propped up them and their wealth for over three hundred years.
Is there some room for cautious optimism in our tourism performance? Following 21 consecutive months of long stay visitor decline January 2014 recorded a modest increase of 3.2 per cent when compared with the same month in 2013. It is however important to keep this in absolute perspective. January 2013 was down 8.2 per cent (4,331 people) when measured against January 2012 and unless we finish the end of February, 7,972 land based visitors up we will still be woefully behind the identical period last year.
The growth largely came from the United Kingdom with 1,455 more long-stay visitors over the same period in January 2013. This in itself is encouraging, because as frequently pointed out, the British and Europeans tend to stay longer, therefore usually contributing a higher per capita spend. The higher UK arrivals were largely driven by two charter airlines. Thomas Cook operating a new service and Thomson adding increased capacity with recently introduced B787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Passengers from these flights included a significant number of cruise and stay holidaymakers, but both carriers offered many seats on sale at substantially reduced fares, which in some cases were less than GBPounds 300 return, including all taxes. With such a diverse destination and a myriad range of accommodation options, these last minute ‘bargains’ present an opportunity to fill some beds at short notice.
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
We are now midway through the peak winter tourism season and it is small wonder that the general populous becomes confused or even bemused when trying to monitor exactly how the industry is performing. Especially when there are a number of proclamations emanating from our policymakers, who many may feel should be better informed. Two of these recent utterings really stand out!
The first when a Minister of Government stated in the foreign press that we have had a good start to the season, when in fact December 2013 recorded the lowest long stay visitor arrivals for that month during the last eleven years. Meanwhile, while accepting the numbers are down, the actual Minister of Tourism partially justifying the dismal sector performance by stating ‘value-added’ is up, totally contradicting the Governor of The Central Bank in his latest video report on our economic condition, who clearly revealed that factually, it is down.
If these incidents were rare or isolated, perhaps it could be just brushed off as possible journalistic misquoting, but the latest ones come after a long list of heady predictions that simply have not materialized. Last year these included ‘a resounding success’, ‘upbeat about arrivals’ and ‘extremely strong’, when referring to Crop Over and July. Later in 2013, ‘it is already a November to remember’ and ‘November had been one of the best Barbados had seen in a while’. In reality, both months set new records over the last decade for recording the lowest stay-over visitors for comparable periods. Tourism interests are then left clambering to source accurate information on which to make educated choices and decisions.
And that’s when they are confronted by the next obstacle.
Submitted by Due Diligence
After reviewing media reports over the past couple of years I have updated my chronology of the Sandals/Almond saga, with particular attention to the Heywoods property.
In April 2012, Almond Beach Village closed its doors to guests sending 500 workers on the breadline.
November 2012 Neal & Massy Group CEO, Gervase Warner, revealed three private sector parties, Jamaica’s Sandals Resorts headed by Gordon Butch Stewart, a group led by local businessman Bjorn Bjerkhamn, and Paul Doyle’s Crane Resorts had all submitted bids to buy the St. Peter hotel. The original trio had been reduced to one “preferred buyer” and the necessary paper work to complete the transaction was underway. Sources said Paul Doyle of The Crane was the front-runner.
Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier
The merger of American Airlines and US Airways has now pushed the combined frequent flyer membership above the 100 million mark. Put another way, almost 33 per cent of the world’s third most populous country, the United States. In any market it would be a difficult segment to persistently ignore, but from our second largest source of long stay visitors, it defies belief, especially during times of economic challenges, when holiday budgets can be among the first to suffer. It may also partially explain why some of our neighbours have overtaken us in American long-stay visitors.
Sadly, the loss of the American Airlines direct service out of New York will further restrict the potential, previously having lost Dallas/Fort Worth and San Juan, plus Philadelphia with US Airways. But with the miles now totally interchangeable between the two carriers, we still have daily service from Miami and currently once a week from Charlotte. Whether the re-organisation will result in a downsizing of the North Carolina hub and curtailment of this flight remains to be seen.
Route changes have yet to be announced, so ‘we’ are not fully aware of any new opportunities that it may present, but that should not stop exploiting what already exists. One of the reasons why I am so passionate about airline loyalty programmes is because existing marketing initiatives in the USA simply have not worked. There has been no overall long stay visitor arrival increase from this market for six years, so surely it’s long overdue that alternative strategies are at least tried.