Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism Authority

Time to Recruit the BEST People for Tourism

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

I have always tried to stay away from the various personalities that have been entrusted to guide our number one foreign currency generator, but it would have been almost impossible not to comment on the remarks accredited to the outgoing Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Industry recently. If accurately reported, there certainly was some very robust, and frankly, blunt language used to describe the agency as, ‘a slothful, wasteful and inefficient organization in an increasingly dynamic technologically-driven and commercial industry’.

Perhaps, in less colourful words, this has been stated by many in the sector repeatedly over several years, so why is it after more than three years at the helm, only being recognised now? And if you analyse the figures, why were corrective measures not put into place much earlier?

After assuming the position of Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority in May 2011 that year only recorded two months of long stay visitor decline. However, by April 2012 Barbados witnessed a reduction in arrivals for 21 consecutive months. Sadly the release of tourism numbers seem to get later and later each month, with the May 2014 figures taking a staggering 60 days to be posted on the Barbados Statistical Service website. But all the indications are that so far this year the best we can expect is a ‘flat’ performance. Equally important to highlight is that during the third year (2013) of the official’s tenure, Barbados registered the lowest stay-over arrivals for any one of the last 11 years.

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Tourism Managers Need to Step up!

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

Some months ago the Barbados Tourism Authority finally published a list of licensed hotels and a limited number of other accommodation providers. Sadly, I only saw it in the press and failed to understand why the agency did not post this latest listing on the official website, where the majority of the end users could access this information at any time prior to booking.

There seems absolutely no point having a national website unless it is maintained. A simple example is that three months after being granted unilateral extraordinary concessions Sandals Barbados does not yet appear on the visitbarbados.org, accommodation section. In fact, the site is so far out-of-date the location is still shown as Casuarina Beach Club, even ignoring its brief history as a Couples Resort.

It is quite frankly staggering the array of alternative accommodation that is widely advertised on the Internet, with absolutely no indication whether these properties meet the same insurance, fire and health requirements that our registered lodging offerings are required under law to comply with. What is also alarming is the number of establishments that make no mention of VAT (Value Added Tax). Could it be their annual revenue gleaned from rentals does not meet the minimum trading threshold of $80,000 per year.

In a surprising number of cases nightly rentals exceed US$400 a night, so a total of 100 nightly lettings annually would already place them in a VAT liable situation.

There could also be at least two other explanations. That many owners rent their individual properties through a villa/apartment/condominium agency, who then charge and account for any VAT element, or payment is collected offshore and therefore due taxes are avoided altogether. According to the Laws of Barbados – LRO 1997 – CAP. 342 section 25 (1)

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Tourism Our #1 Business

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

The blogs can of course be a double edged sword. The anonymity allows, if the contributor wishes, comments to be made without risk of targeted personal attacks and political labelling while still being able to express an opinion, whether constructive or not. Sadly, if you chose not to hide behind the veil of ‘anonymous’ it holds the risk of the messenger being castigated, rather than evaluating any merit in the message itself.

For those of us who hold democracy dear and have personally experienced alternative regimes, it goes with the territory and if it helps maintain responsible freedom of speech then personally I have no problem. A recent blogger, writing under the name of ‘Fisheye’ put forward 16 points to improve our tourism offerings. To me, one especially stood out and that was to allow our visitors to complete the required immigration form online.

Bearing in mind the rapid trend in online transactions, whether for banking, bill payment, shopping, airline or hotel check-in, car rental registration or whatever, it seems a very simple but effective way to capture important marketing information. It may also speed up the collection of this information to allow the Barbados Statistical Service (BSS) to make it publicly available in a timelier manner. It can often take the BSS ages to post arrival information on their website and even then, months like August 2013 are not available at all. Compounding the difficulty in accessing up-to-date information is the fact that the Ministry of Tourism does not currently have a functioning website.

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Tourist Predictions Not Hitting the Mark

Adrian Loveridge - Hotelier

Adrian Loveridge – Hotelier

If there was a single phrase to describe this winter tourism season, I think it may be great expectations. Despite all the wild speculation which included ‘this November has been one of the best Barbados had seen in a while’ being made by tourism officials, the month in fact ended by recording the lowest long stay visitors for any November during the last 11 years. It also heralded 20 consecutive months of stay over visitor decline.

As this is the latest in a long line of unfulfilled predictions this year, is it time for our policymakers to focus more attention on what can be achieved, rather than drift into the realms of prophecy and conjecture. I wonder just how much longer we can go on trying to justify rewarding failure. So much is riding on the performance of our tourism sector over the next 120 plus days leading up until next Easter Monday on 22 April, not only in terms of occupancy, but in the critical role of trying to claw back lost revenue from the last almost two lean years.

In our key market, the United Kingdom, traditionally there is a booking surge when tour operators step up their promotional activities on Boxing Day. But one of the largest travel companies, Thomas Cook, pre-empted its competitors by launching a massive sale, two weeks prior to Christmas to tempt the bargain hunters into commitment for summer 2014.

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Barbados.org is that You?

Submitted by Due Diligence
Adrian Elcock, Chairman of the BTA

Adrian Elcock, Chairman of the BTA

When I Googled “Barbados All Inclusive” yesterday [17 November 2013] I clicked on the barbados.org link, then http://www.barbados.org/allinclusive_vacations.php#.UoohrxaSKRY,There I found a list of 8 all-inclusive resorts, I then printed pages 1 to 3 of the 5 pages. On the printed page 2 of 5, the same two pictures of the two kids and the two adults which appeared on the website were printed – and, unbelievably,  under those pictures there is an ad for Transat Holidays for – SAINT LUCIA!. A copy of the printed page is attached. When I revisited the same page this morning, and printed page 2 of 5, the Transat/Saint Lucia ad was replaced with an Air Canada/CIBC ad.  Copy also attached. Apparently barbdos.org sells ad space to travel organizations which rotate and appear only in the printed material.

I suggest it might be timely for those who control barbados.org, the “Official Website of the Barbados Tourism Authority“, to do a bit of due diligence into the workings of its website.

Is the Ministry of Tourism Underachieving?

Excerpts related to tourism Budget Speeches 2008 to 2012:

  • There are some critical national concerns and a Tourism Master Plan is currently being designed by a new Unit in the Ministry of Tourism designed to look at our tourism development strategy in a holistic way addressing our product, land use policy, marketing, carrying capacity and linkages to our other sectors and the lives of Barbadians among other matters.
  • The expansion of the luxury tourism market will include the construction and opening every two years of a major internationally branded luxury hotel and associated branded residences catering to the five-star and ultra luxury tourism market.
  • The expansion of the luxury room stock will also assist in the establishment of the Health Tourism market in Barbados.
  • I [the late David Thompson’s first budget] have just returned from a CARICOM Heads of Government meeting at which tourism, regional and international transport were discussed for one full day. Some important decisions were taken including the commitment to a regional brand, the establishment of a Caribbean Tourism Marketing Fund and discussions are taking place between LIAT and Caribbean Airlines Limited on their future together – Budget 2008

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Adrian Elcock Rihanna Partnership

Submitted by Barbados First

What is the connection between Adrian Elcock, Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) and Rihanna?

Does it have anything to do with her being given a 3 year contract to market Barbados the terms of which have not been made public?

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