Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism Authority

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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Is there anyone awake at the Barbados Tourism Authority?

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

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.

Tax avoidance or Tax Fraud… where is the line?

What is also alarming is the number of establishments that make no mention of VAT (Value Added Tax).  Continue reading

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Penalizing tourist loyalty to Barbados does not seem like good marketing practice.

Barbados Investment Four Seasons

“Has the effect of the campaign been to simply reduce earned income for the sector, meaning that overall the average visitor has spent considerably less than normal?”

Questions about the latest Barbados Tourism Authority campaign

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

As we have now passed the latest ‘book-by’ date for the several times re-launched Barbados Island Inclusive promotion, is it time to analyse in depth just how cost effective the initiative has been?

Especially as it was one of the very few, national marketing initiatives for this year that have either not been postponed, cancelled or simply just not implemented in the first place.

Just to remind readers, the stated objective was to generate an ‘additional’ 15,000 long stay visitors between the end of May and the 21st December 2013, who would spend BDS$30 million at a quoted cost of BDS$11 million to cover the promotional costs.

Minister of Tourism (MOT), Mr. Sealy is on record as stating ‘all but $4 million will actually be spent on advertising’.

On 22nd July 2013 the Barbados Government Information Service reported the MOT ‘had revealed that more than 5,000 tourists had taken advantage of the vouchers being offered under the programme’.

We know that even before the October figures are published, that ‘we’ are already experiencing an unprecedented 18 consecutive months of long stay visitor decline. So the word ‘additional’ is critical to appraisal, as if the initiative had in fact, generated any incremental numbers, then it has been at a huge cost.

‘Free Spending Vouchers’ cost Barbados taxpayers $733 per person

‘Free Spending Vouchers’ as they are called, were given to visitors spending as little as two nights on Barbados, but if you averaged the subsidy over all durations of stay, and conclude that all 15,000 will be used, that’s a massive taxpayer cost of BDS$733 per person. So at best a return-on-investment (ROI) of 2.72:1. Makes you think, when other initiatives consistently achieving an ROI of 40:1 were not supported. Continue reading

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Loveridge on Barbados tourism: The time for remedial action has long since passed

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Even though it has not become widespread public knowledge, September 2013 became the 18th consecutive month of long stay visitor decline and recorded the lowest stay-over arrivals of any month in the last 11 years.

As someone who has invested their life savings and 25 years in the Barbados tourism industry, it give me no pleasure to state this unpleasant fact, but someone has to say it. If only in the interests of survival.

The time for remedial action has long since passed.

“Once again, it is now a case of damage limitation and focusing on what the private sector can do for itself,  to avoid annihilation of the industry as we know it.”

This may at first appear dramatic, but you only have to look around at other businesses on the island to understand that a sector that has been financially drained for a year and a half cannot be immune from the same challenges others are facing.

Not that our policymakers are listening, but I am going to make a few suggestions…

1)   Establish a National Marketing Committee (NMC) in the shortest practical time, comprising of proven professionals with a rotating Chairman, chosen irrespective of any political party leanings.

The existing Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) board would cease to play any functional part in promoting the destination, or simply be disbanded, based on non-performance.

2)   Place the opposition spokesperson on tourism (regardless of which party is in power) on this committee, to ensure there is true non-partisan participation in decision making and understanding of the current problems. Continue reading

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Why Barbados Tourism Authority’s choice of Rihanna as a marketing strategy failed to yield results

The_Great_British_Holiday_Report

The Great British Holiday Report sends another message to our Barbados Tourism Authority…

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Perhaps the decades of using tiny budgets to generate ‘big picture’ results  has made it almost a prerequisite to research as many marketing options as possible, hopefully increasing the probability of success.

Last month, Teletext Holidays commissioned an independent market research company,  Opinion Matters, to conduct a survey of 1,775 UK adults,for in their words ‘uncover British Attitudes to booking holidays’. The Great British Holiday Report concluded what many tourism professionals perhaps had already gleaned over the last few years of challenging operation, but it’s worth repeating some of the findings if we are going to fully understand one of our main markets.

You can download your own PDF version of the report here: The Great British Holiday Report

Without wanting to copy, parrot fashion, large parts of the report I think its important to put the findings in context…

‘Getting away from it all for a week or two is the highlight of the year for many Britons, which is why we put so much time and effort into choosing the perfect holiday’.  

However, the way holidays are booked and planned has changed in recent years.

‘What’s more, as a result of the economic downturn, Britons have become more accustomed to seeking out the best deals’.

‘Many Britons now book within weeks of their departure date: 23 per cent within two months of travel and more than two thirds (67 per cent) within six months of departure’.

But even those conclusions have to be further broken down. Men are more inclined to book last-minute, while women are almost twice as likely to book more than a year in advance. Continue reading

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Should the Barbados Tourism Authority shut down operations in the United States?

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“Dollar for dollar, advertising in overseas markets was proven to generate a higher return on investment than the United States.”

… Canadian Tourism Commission VP talks about cancelling advertising in the USA

Return on Investment lacking for BTA’s efforts in the USA

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Last month the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Crown corporation that 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 – to ignore an immediate neighbour with nine times your own population, a staggering  316 million potential visitors on your doorstep. Among the justfying 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.

Canadian Tourism Commission vice-president of strategy and corporate communications, Paul Nursey, stated ‘Dollar for dollar, advertising in overseas markets was proven to generate a higher return on investment than the United States’. Since 2000 the share of tourism industry revenue from outside Canada has dropped from 35 per cent of the industry total to just below 19 percent and the decline is largely attributed to diminished travel from the U.S. market.

It got me thinking is there are any parallels with Barbados.

“Traditionally, the United States has always has always received the lion’s share of the annual Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) budget, and frankly I have always found this difficult to understand.”

In the five year inclusive  period  2003 to 2007, we welcomed 654,282* American long stay visitors. From 2008 to 2012 that number had marginally grown to 662,246* or just 7,965 additional people.

To put that in perspective, it only represents around 30 more visitors per week.  Continue reading

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Tourism statistics: Antigua UP, Barbados DOWN – Why?

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Recently published online by Caribbean News Now, hotelier Rob Barrett, the CEO and operator of three hotels on Antigua, (St. James Club, Galley Bay and Verandah Resort and Spa) announced some very encouraging news…

‘The first quarter of 2013, January through March, has been the best quarter in terms of financial results I have experienced since coming to Antigua over 20 years ago, despite lingering and significant global economic challenges in both North America and the UK’.

Attributing some of the growth to, in his words, ‘I believe some of the recent strength is the result of positive changes happening on island which affect visitors’ perceptions from their welcome with improved customs and immigration processing to the more efficient taxi operations. These together provide an overall better arrival experience for visitors’.

Mr. Barrett also commented on ‘more positive Government cooperation as the tourism ministry seems more proactive in so many facets that bring heightened awareness to our island and people’.  Adding “we support the ministry’s efforts to deliver a new, more user friendly website and to work more closely with the private sector’ and ‘Antigua’s Government and Ministry of Tourism seems more progressive and accessible’

Are there any lessons that ‘we’ as a destination (Barbados) can learn from this? 

It would appear so. Antigua recorded an increase of 2.3 per cent in long stay visitors last year, compared with our decline of 5.5 per cent. A more than 7 per cent differential. Continue reading

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