Barbados Tourism stats alarming. New government had better act right now with real changes

Barbados German Tourists

by Adrian Loveridge

As we have now crossed the halfway stage of the winter tourism season, it is looking increasingly doubtful that any predictions of a strong performance in this sector will become a reality.

The January long stay visitor arrivals figures are especially alarming.

An overall fall of 8.2 per cent across all markets, but significantly concerning are the numbers from Canada, which saw a 18.4 per cent fall when compared with the same month in 2012.

The USA was down 11.1 per cent, the UK down 2.4 per cent and Trinidad down a staggering 40.6 per cent.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Whoever assumes the office of Government later this week will finally have to take a long and hard look at current marketing strategies. Even if this is deemed an imperative, there is very little likelihood that any measures implemented at this late stage will make an iota of difference before April 15th.

So the next challenge is the eight long softer summer months.

After five years in power the outgoing administration had seemingly abandoned any attempt to fulfill their previously stated 2008 manifesto objective: to restructure the Barbados Tourism Authority.
This despite an overwhelming mandate to effect change – yet surprisingly it’s popped up again in the 2013 manifesto.

According to the Barbados Tourism Authority’s own website its declared mission statement is;  ‘The Barbados Tourism Authority’s functions are to promote, assist and facilitate the efficient development of tourism; to design and implement suitable marketing strategies for the effective promotion of the tourism industry’.

I think the question has to be asked: Are these goals being successfully achieved in the most cost-effective and productive ways? Clearly there are challenges but every other regional destination is also experiencing the same difficulties.

Whoever is elected this Thursday will quickly have to formulate policies to redress the loss of over 100,000 long stay visitors over the last five years and the loss of nearly that number of cruise ship passengers in a single year, 2012. The fact that these decisions will have to be made as we enter the shoulder season makes this task even more daunting.

My only hope is that any new or returning administration will realise that while it may garner a few votes, putting friends and cronies into critical policy making positions without the necessary skills and knowledge is not in the national interest.

What has honestly surprised me leading up to the election is the lack of discussion and proffering of constructive solutions to our current crisis in tourism.  It almost appears that those who have recently left power and those aspiring to achieve it simply don’t have any new ideas – or even where to turn to find them.

We entered 2013 without any coherent national marketing plan and this must be a great source of concern for the private sector. With dramatically eroded viability, I doubt the majority of tourism partners have the means available to assume the responsibly of promoting both their own business and the destination.

Much emphasis has been placed on the role of hoteliers and that the industry is a lot more than about them. Absolutely right, but at the end of day, they have almost always made the single largest investment and have the most to lose if the destination suffers.

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16 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

16 responses to “Barbados Tourism stats alarming. New government had better act right now with real changes

  1. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2013 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    VOTE THE C.U.P WHEN YOU HEAR THE SHOUT THE MASTERS OF MASSIVE FRAUD ,
    BLP AND THE DLP COVER AND COVER UP.

    SHAMGAR IN JUDGES
    1 Start where you are.
    2 Use what you have.
    3 Do what you can.
    VOTE TRUTH NOT PARTY WE HAVE IT

  2. TWWIFOS

    Yep, someone better to something. The Gap was a ghost town this past Saturday night. Not a good sign, especially in the middle of high season.

  3. 73

    , I do not know what you all want the government to do. we have sought to go into new markets, you criticised that, yet at the same time you talk of restructuring the tourist industry. Everyone knows that tourists are not coming to Barbados in their numbers, so the thing to do is to seek out new markets and at the same time try to develop other sectors so as to reduce the leavel of vulnerability as a country by putting all our eggs in one basket. There was a time under the previous adminstrration when they were paying to bring tourists to Barbados for basically free, but when they came here they were not spending, so when you did the balance sheet we were running a charity event. Is that what Mr Loveridge wants us to do again. I think not.

  4. Canadian Tourist

    Hey Nony,

    Whatever you think, the author is right in his assumptions and belief that a new plan, any plan, is needed. Here in Canada, Barbados is on no-ones radar. Period. I only go because my wife’s family has made it their yearly two-three week vacation. When I mention Barbados to friends, they confuse it with the Bahamas or Bermuda. You just don’t see Barbados being mentioned by Airlines, travel agents, tour operators or even self promoted as other islands do on television or magazines.

    You have to spend money to make money, and until you do, the Gap is going to remain deserted.

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous,
    You are wrong on just about every count.
    In fact ,I was one of the people pushing the hardest to enter new markets and visited both Brazil and Argentina to help make that happen. I still believe that the GOL flight has enormous potenial, but sadly my suggested ideas that we approached it in a holistic way, including working with our neighbours (other islands, a home based (reverse season) cruise and stay programme, air freight (often more profitable than people), trade delegation and sports groups were not implemented.
    The approach to COPA to operate a service to/from Panama was also MY idea and it is minuted in the BTA board minutes.
    The CTO have reported that long stay visitors to the Caribbean increased 5.4 per cent in 2012, Barbados FELL 5.5 per cent. Spending is up 3.6 per cent throughout the Caribbean, but DOWN on Barbados.
    The DLP had over 5 years and a clear mandate to restructure the BTA and chose not to. Its back in the 2013 DLP Manifesto again and also in the BLP Manifesto.
    Cleary, Tourism here is in a crisis. We can go on talking about it, or take the steps to catch up with the rest of the Caribbean.

  6. A disillusioned traveller to Barbados

    You cannot expect tourists to go to a place where there is no justice for victims of crime. I refer to the case of the wrongful arrest of Derrick Crawford for the rape of two British women. Those women fought hard to free Derrick who they knew to be innocent and expected the RBPF to renew investigations. What did they get from the Commissioner of Police – A statement saying they had been difficult and uncooperative, that they would be incapable of identifying their attacker because he was of a different race and that basically they were wrong because the police had arrested the correct man! No hint even of a renewed investigation.
    We all know crime occurs everywhere but we also know that it is how the authorities deal with that crime that is the true test of any organization. Barbados has a history of covering up crime and of not issuing warnings to tourists. Remember the cases of Mrs Schwarzfeld murdered on Long Beach and Andrew Thompson who was robbed and shot on the West Coast.
    There were many complaints that no warnings were issued.
    If warnings had gone out after the first British woman was raped, then the second offence could have been averted.
    Sort out the corruption within the police force and elsewhere and maybe people will begin to see Barbados as a desirable holiday destination. Until then, numbers will continue to drop.

  7. Green Monkey

    The Gap was a ghost town this past Saturday night…..

    Maybe the few “tourisses” we do have finally got fed up to the teeth of being accosted in the gap by drug pushers, taxi drivers asking them every few feet if they want a taxi and the agressive beach bums making sexual comments and references to/about their wives, girl friends, daughter’s etc. and decided that it was no place they wanted to be.

  8. sith

    It is about value for money. Barbados simply can not compete with other destinations and a lot of that is connected to the pegged currency exchange rate. There is no free market to exchange the Barbados currency which has lead to a false sense of value for the people living on the island. Until that is addressed and corrected prices are always going to be high for tourists to visit Barbadso.

  9. TWWIFOS

    @ Green Monkey

    Well, there seems to be a shortage of riff raff too. I walked from one end to the other and did not encounter any of that. I’m not saying that it does not exist, but nowhere to be found when I was there. It seems that clearing out those types is the easiest part of the tourism problem. Maybe there might be some attempt to do just that. I hope so.

  10. Roverp

    I think people should get to know the facts before going off with views on the matter. I am aware of Mr. Loverage’s pushing to develop new markets. Mr Loverage has caused both parties sleepless nights as he has constantly zeroes in on the real issues as opposed to the so called “distinguished intelletuals” who fail to be independent thinkers. He is not a “YES” man …toll the line man….and hence is attacked by both parties for failing to be a sheep following either one of them blindly.

  11. Ronnie McGovern

    A Well Travelled Scottish Tourist……

    We have now been to Barbado hotels 9 times ( mostly room only) and Adrian Loveridge is correct.

    No one in Britian pushes Barbados as a holiday resort -it isseen a rich mans playground and it seems thats all the Barbados Government wants. We have stayed at Peach & Quiet, Amarylliss, Coconut Court etc and have been shocked at the decline in tourism particularly around the gap area. I have to be really honest, and that may not be liked – I love the Bajan people and their attitude to life but not at any price. I costed a 2 week holiday at Sugar Cane Club all inclusive with flights from London for 2 people for January 2014 and it came to £6200!!! I can go to the Cape Verde Islands All Inclusive in a new hotel TWICE for that money (ok the flight is 6 hours instead of 7 1/2). i also looked at another hotel in Barbados that charged US$185 a night up until 15th December for a standard room but from the 16th of December to end of winter season it was $295 a night.I will not pay an extra $2400 US for the same room just because it’s a different season. A small amount yes we could accept, but not ridiculous sums. Barbados has to face facts – the world of tourism is changing and Barbados has to change with it.

    if tourism drops much further airlines will drop flights and that will spell danger even more. We heard from the airport that a Virgin plane in January arrived with only 24 people on board. In December we went back to the uk and the 10 full rows behind us were empty, in fact there were only about 20 people in economy. If our favourite hotel is open we will come back, but if not, we have started looking at other Caribbean islands that actually seem to want us. We will no longer come Just because it’s Barbados.we want value for our money too – just like you.

  12. Repeat visitor

    Barbados is off the radar in Canada as a commenter said. I spent two months on the island recently…and it was great but you can see that unlessbther’s a big government shakeup you’ll see more stupid and destructive developments like st. Ferdinand in st. Peter…

  13. barbadostripadvisor

    BARBADOS HOTELS OR SURPLUS OF.???????????????

    BARBADOS HAS MANY HOTELS! NONE ARE FULL..! yet we continue to build more hotels and condos for non existent guest.! i can not see the sense in this exercise.the only reason such things would be done is #1/some billionaire wants to get away from cold weather and one way of living in barbados is to buy your way in.#2/the money used to build these hotels and condos are built with dirty money and laundered by the process of selling them.#3 some billionaire will buy his way in to barbados and then bring his friends in and live in luxury as residents of barbados totally unaware or uncaring of the poor and lower classes which are the majority of Barbadians.to them it is just a big party and they bring their foreighn chefts and hotel workers whom are personal friends.

    This is against barbados law of course but goes on frequently.especially on the west coast of the island.you will see adverts in the news paper for chefs and hotel workers ,management etc and apparently no Barbadian has the credentials they require .This is purposely done and very clever so they can bring in more foreigners possibly friends or friends of friends.so they can all live it up in barbados illegally.Yet legal by paying off some member of the government.

    i would think there would be a department of government to check on such things,problem there is that department would also take bribes.

    so how can this exercise be fixed.?????????????

    i see no way. and it will be eventually be the undoing and destroying of my island home.

    i care but Barbadians do not protest anything in any large amount of protesters.

    they are kept stupid with the rum and wuck up party factor.whilst others plot their down fall.

    secretly laughing and looking down on the poor Negroes which them makes them feel special about them selves.as where they come from they are not really nothing but in barbados they can become who ever they want as long as they have money.

    a life of fantasy.but the truth may be they are lying about every part of their life before barbados.

    and their barbados identity is made up and acted out of what they wish they were.

    that is how it is.

  14. Richard Johnston

    Barbados has to wake up and forget it was once a premium destination. The social climate that rejects gay people, the run-down infrastructure, the high prices and the antediluvian practice of, for instance requiring Hong Kong visitors to pay $US100 and surrender their very passports for 2 weeks to get a one-entry visa when the US and the EU allow them visa waiver all say “You’re not really welcome but we’ll take your money if you insist” loud and clear. “Gouge the tourist” only works if you’ve got what it takes, and Barbados no longer does.

  15. red

    dont worry guys I wont spend another dime of my money on your
    unfriendly island.
    why? ask yourself and find out I wont help you.

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