Category Archives: Barbados Tourism

Tourism businesses must do more to help themselves

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While this may not be universally accepted by all, can and should the private sector tourism industry do more to help itself?

The simple answer must be yes!

I firmly believe there are so many more ways that we can build smart partnerships to build our destination awareness in all the key markets.

As an example, many years ago we persuaded the three largest villa rental agencies to jointly produce a full page ‘ad’ that appeared in leading travel magazines like Caribbean Travel and Life. By collectively sharing the costs they were able to attract an audience that would have been price inhibitive if attempted individually.

As first you may think that you were collaborating with the ‘enemy’ and handing valuable business to your competition, but in today’s reality the consumer is savvy and well informed. They can make a defined choice based on their own preferences.

There would be nothing stopping our car rental agencies, major attractions and small hotels doing exactly the same and ideally, in one concerted effort, together.  Continue reading

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Boycott LIAT for a day

Robert Pitcher Barbados LIAT

Fun N’ Sun publisher Robert Pitcher is calling upon Bajans and people throughout the Caribbean to boycott LIAT Airlines for a day in protest of the airline’s high fares and low-quality service.

That’s all well and good, but the real question is: Should Barbados and other governments be involved in the airline business at all – especially when LIAT hasn’t made a dollar profit since it was founded?

If there is one thing we’ve proved over the last 100 years, it is that governments cannot run businesses in a profitable manner. It is impossible.

What governments can do though, is to subsidise government businesses so that they squeeze out all privately-owned competition. Can we say “RedJET” ?

In our past, a case could be made for a government subsidised national or Caribbean airline to bring tourists, business people and trade from over and away and also island hopping. With the explosion of affordable air travel this is no longer a necessity… and if we choose to subsidise air travel to the island, it is much easier to give money to Virgin Air than to run our own airline.

It’s time to kill LIAT dead dead dead.

Pitcher: Avoid LIAT

BOYCOTT LIAT FOR a day.

That’s what publisher Robert Pitcher is calling on the regional public to do to send a clear message to the airline that they are fed up with its high airfares and poor quality service.

He also advised the regional governments looking to invest in the island hopping airline to keep it afloat not to put a cent into it until it changes its board, which he contends, is not suited to oversee the affairs of running a modern airline.

Instead, a group of successful Caribbean businessmen from the separate territories should be appointed to the board with a Caribbean chief executive officer at the helm who understands the market.

Speaking at a press conference at his Rendezvous Gardens, Christ Church offices this morning, Pitcher a director of Fun N’ Sun publishing, also took issue with the announcement that LIAT would be flying to Haiti four times weekly from December.

Pitcher said presently the airline cannot even service their existing routes efficiently and this move would be to a country where loads would be doubtful, similar to the unsuccessful route to the Dominican Republic.

… read the rest of this article at the Nation Pitcher: Avoid LIAT

Thanks to an old friend for suggesting this article!

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Barbados hotel investment collapsing as government concessions to Sandals set the expected standard

level-playing-field

Barbados tourism investment ‘level playing field’

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

It reminds me a little of the rather repetitive ‘ad’ aired on local radio, ‘how low can you go’. There are almost always consequences for the failure to implement policies and address the overwhelming concerns of an entire industry.

Therefore it was inevitable that it would manifest itself in the shortest possible time. The Daily Nation article published last week ‘Jobs on Hold’ graphically demonstrates the dangers of attempting to invest, upgrade and re-open one of our many closed hotels, in a climate that lacks a level playing field.

If the reporting was accurate, then a potential 320 jobs, $4 million refurbishment plan, $5 million in foreign exchange and getting 145 improved rooms back into the marketplace for the upcoming critical winter season is now beyond possibility. That could represent a further loss of almost 300 airline seats per week, which may play a crucial part in helping fill and ensuring the sustainability of the two new Delta flights from Atlanta and New York starting early December.

An enhanced Amaryllis would have also helped bridge the gap of product quality offerings from when Sandals is scheduled to re-open its doors in late January 2015.

What I find so incredulous is that did our policymakers not think through that no substantive investor in their right mind would speculate millions of dollars into new or improved plant, before having in place the unimpeded similar concessions that Sandals extracted.

I also think that as a matter of urgency, some analysis needs to be done by the Central Bank of Barbados to see in ‘real’ terms if foreign exchange generated by our accommodation sector, that is retained in the country has fallen in a desperate attempt to replicate Sandals policy of collecting revenue offshore.

If in fact this figure is down there will be further negative implications in terms of taxation collected and payable to Government through VAT and any corporate taxes payable.

These issues have to be addressed now if there is any realistic chance in returning our tourism sector to growth and lifting it out of the current prolonged period of arrival numbers stagnation.

The longer the administration delays universal implementation of all the pledged concessions, the closer is the risk that more hotels will close.

As a destination, we currently hold the record for the most failed tourism accommodation properties within the Caribbean.

Later this week the Minister of Finance has kindly consented to address the third quarterly meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. It would seem like this would be an ideal forum to declare that the promised ‘permanent’ legislation is now in place. Only then can the entire industry start rebuilding a sector that clearly is experiencing prolonged and severe distress.

Using the Minister’s own recent ‘instant coffee society’ analogy, as the pot has been on the boil so long already and the expectations have evaporated, it will not be the beverage of choice for me this Thursday.

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Connect 2014 – the most important event for Barbados tourism industry

“While all the figures are not yet a matter of public record, nearly every other Caribbean country is recording tourism growth of up to 18.6 per cent for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados currently lies eighteenth in terms of numbers with no significant improvement at all.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

For three days later this week one of the most important travel trade events takes place, called Connect 2014. It is estimated that around 97 tour operators representing 74 companies from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Continental Europe and the Caribbean will attend. Courting their crucial business and hoping to positively influence choices around 125 local hoteliers and ancillary service providers will also be taking part.

 Along with a number of other industry interests including the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and Bushy Park, the Barbados Tourism Authority (or perhaps I should now refer to the new name, BTM Inc) have been kind enough to invite me to make a presentation on our re-DISCOVER initiative.

 With so many destinations to choose from, often at substantially lower cost, it is in my humble opinion that we must collectively make every possible effort to get across that Barbados can offer value-for-money by providing a greater selection of more affordable options.

For us, the perfect scenario is to persuade the tour operators to place our website address on their client’s final documentation, whether in print or electronically. That way the consumer can plan ahead, budget for their out-of-pocket expenses which helps maximise the potential for participating restaurants.  Continue reading

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Barbados government punished 5,000 hotel rooms to reward Sandals’ 280 rooms. Wise tourism strategy or not?

“When you look across the state of our entire tourism industry perhaps the closest comparison can be made with Rome burning while Nero played the fiddle in A.D. 64.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Even if the repeatedly broken promises confirming that all registered hotels will qualify for the same concessions given to Sandals last year came into practical effect this week, it is now far too late for the vast majority of properties to make any meaningful use of them this year, at least in terms of major upgrading.

Whether it was Government’s honest intention or not, Sandals look like they will re-open with an enhanced quality product advantage in late January 2015 that virtually every other hotel cannot hope to compete with.

Again, it’s important to repeat that like most other tourism businesses we welcome the group’s arrival and in the long term hope that it will drive additional investment and upgrading on a level playing field.

Despite the continued speculation about added airlift, it simply will not happen until the Beaches property is hopefully completed in a yet indeterminate number of years from now. The short term reality is that we have lost a potential 25,000 airline seats in the interim reconstruction period.

That would not have happened if the former Casuarina/Couples hotel had remained open.

Only time will tell if punishing around 5,000 rooms, while rewarding just 280 will prove to be a sustainable long term solution to the overall industry challenges.  Continue reading

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Loveridge: Deadly reality strikes the Barbados Tourism Authority, but opportunity awaits!

“Any entity, whether private or public, operating for such a long time without a specific mandate that ensured spending was cost-effective and directly related to a reasonable return on investment is simply unacceptable.” 

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

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 including describing 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 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. Continue reading

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Beware November… Let’s do something about it now!

rum shop barbados

“We need to drive an additional average of 170 visitors per day over the month to get back to the highs of the previous decade.”

November’s core should be the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

2014 will mark the hosting of the fifth annual Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and I firmly believe that this event has enormous further potential, especially as it takes place during November which is traditionally one of our quietest months.

While I understand the challenging logistics of spreading the invited celebrity events over a longer period, there are many additional initiatives that the private sector tourism partners can put into place, which could prolong the benefits.

First I think the entire 30 days could be promoted as a ‘gastronomic’ month with our restaurants, at all levels, offering more affordable eating options.

Perhaps the more innovative car rental companies could smart partner with a selection of the eateries to provide an island-wide lunch ‘passport’, even including our attractions at a reduced entrance fee.

November provides every component to ensure the concept has the highest possibility of success. From the UK, excess seat capacity on the legacy carriers with Virgin and British Airways, plus scheduled charter seats from Manchester with Thomas Cook offering lead-in return fares from GBPounds 322.

Climate is also on our side from certain areas of the US and Canada.  Continue reading

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