Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism Authority

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 In fact, the site is so far out-of-date the location is still shown as Casuarina Beach Club, even ignoring its brief history as a Couples Resort.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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Careful Analysis Needed to Determine Marketing Spend in US Market

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Last month the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Crown’s corporation which acts as a national tourism marketing board for that country, announced that it was going to stop advertising in the United States. I am sure it took many by surprise.

The Ottawa Sun seemed to capture the spirit behind the decision with a bold headline screaming ‘Ottawa no longer wants to waste time and money trying to lure American tourists to the land of moose, mountains and Mounties’.

At first, this decision appears to defy any logic. An immediate neighbour with nine times your own population, a staggering 316 million potential visitors on your doorstep. Among the justifying reasons were that the typical US visitor spent, on average, only US$518 per trip to Canada last year, the lowest amount spent by any international visitor group. By contrast, tourists from Brazil spent an average of US$1,874 per trip.

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Our Tourism Product: Let Us Get Cracking!

Andrew Nehaul - Tourism Consultant

Andrew Nehaul

I am a concerned admirer of Barbados who reside abroad. The slowly deteriorating economic situation on the island leaves me in bewilderment because there seems to be a lot of talk and no action. Nearly every day I read in the online press about more layoffs and business closures. Most of the writers on the blogs seem to be more keen on casting political barbs at one another than of providing creative, useful comments that might make Barbados better.

My profession has always been travel to the Caribbean and in Sweden. I see movement in the right direction from Aruba, Curacao, The Dominican Republic, St Lucia & Jamaica. I see nothing from Barbados. Barbados has a lot to offer the visitor. Unfortunately, the BTA does not seem to know their targets nor do they produce relevant information for their partners who sell the destination. Families, singles, honeymooners, wedding couples, seniors – all relevant market groups.

My question is:

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Reconciling the Tourism Numbers in Fiscal 2013

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Government’s budget setting out the Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue for the financial year 2013/2014, lists that ‘a subvention of $101.7 million has been provided to the Barbados Tourism Authority to facilitate marketing and promotion’. At first, it seems, a simple enough stated intent, but what does it really mean?

‘Marketing and promotion’, what will ultimately be spent on these two critical functions after all other expenses are taken out? Salaries, per diem allowances, the much vaunted restructuring costs possibly including an allowance for severance, consultancy fees, lease payments on luxury SUV vehicles, recent office moving expenses, outstanding debts, overseas offices, depreciation, interest. The list goes on and on.

Perhaps even more pertinent, will the budgeted amount even actually be available to the organisation? Or will they become cash starved again, before the end of the next financial year contributing to another near devastating fall in arrival numbers. Bearing in mind the fragile state of the industry, wouldn’t it also be wise to ensure that the private sector is fully informed of any recovery plans to ensure limited available resources from them is not squandered by duplicating efforts.

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How Do We Invigorate Our Tourism Product?

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

I suppose you can put it down to my naivety, so long in coming, so many great expectations and then in hindsight, the reality of the situation. Almost 40 percent of the eligible electorate chose not to vote, the status quo re-elected for a second term by a precariously small majority and just microscopic adjustments made to the governance of an industry in crisis. At least, that seems to be the scenario, so far.

Clearly there are plus points. Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary in the reconfigured Ministry and Tourism and International Transport, when many of us years later are still puzzled why the two bodies were ever separated in the first place. The Senator brings her abilities in marketing to the table at a time when this discipline is needed more than ever.

Shadowing the Ministry is Member of Parliamant Santia Bradshaw and while I don’t want to diminish her abundant legal qualifications, I am far from convinced we need or want any more lawyers involved in tourism policymaking. But she is also an entrepreneur and after looking at her website, I was personally impressed with the high level of presentation. Hopefully she can add value and youthful objectivity to the sector from a constructive opposition stance.

Now is the time for solutions.

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