Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism

Municipal Solid Waste Tax is another attack on a beleaguered Barbados tourism and hotel sector

peach-and-quiet-barbados-cricket.jpg

“What is especially galling is that we are expected to pay this new solid waste tax imposition before we receive the tens of thousands of Dollars we are still owed in NIS and VAT refunds…”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

When my now wife and I ‘discovered’ a then virtually derelict Arawak Inn back in 1988, we never really set out to become seasoned hoteliers. More like having the privilege of living in a big ‘house’ right on the ocean and sharing it with a few friends and the many clients who followed us over the years with our British based tour operators business. Every restored and occupied room was another gallon of paint or new soft furnishing.

Our first major setback came when after paying the initial deposit to buy the hotel, the value of Sterling plummeted from over BDS$4 to the Pound to BDS$2.88 at the time of completion. As all our funds were brought in from overseas, there was no alternative as an option.

Effectively this wrote-off literally every cent we had budgeted for renovation and improvement of the property. As new residents it was virtually impossible to borrow monies from the banks. They wanted a trading record, three years of audited accounts, cash flow forecasts and business plans among many other requirements. Suppliers, with very few notable exceptions, would not grant us credit and so we learnt very quickly, how to not only survive, but flourish and transform the hotel from earned trading revenue.

While easy to say now, in hindsight, it was probably the best thing that happened, leaving us totally debt-free years later.  Continue reading

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re-Discover Barbados excellent example of Government & Private Sector cooperation

“As we enter week six since the new launch of the re-DISCOVER restaurant initiative I would like to use this column to publicly thank the Barbados Tourism Authority for their whole-hearted support.

It has been a refreshing revelation and a role model example of how the private and public sector can work successfully together to drive additional business.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

In tourism, just like many other businesses we talk frequently about the bottom line but do we really pay enough attention to the subject.

For instance, how many hotels have sat down and calculated what difference a ten per cent increase in average annual occupancy and a net rise of US$10 or US$20 per occupied room night would make to their turnover and viability?

To use a simple example of a lower end 100 room hotel with a normal nightly rate of US$100 and currently achieving an annual occupancy level of 50 per cent which is pretty typical of many of our properties – In accommodation revenue alone that would generate US$1.825 million a year. Take that occupancy level to 60 per cent at an average of US$110 per room and immediately turnover climbs to US$2.409 million.

That’s an income differential of US$584,000.

Or US$830,000 if the price rise is US$20 per room per night.   Continue reading

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What to do in Barbados? New Totally Barbados app has the answers!

Totally Barbados Events

Whether you’re a tourist or have your navel string buried on this rock, the new mobile app and website from Totally Barbados lists all the events and details to make it easy to have some fun.

We love it.

Check out the Barbados Events and Things to Do online calendar here, or download the mobile app from Google Play Store or iTunes Store.

Our old friend Brett Callaghan has created a real winner of an app that everyone finds indispensable once you use it. Spread the word!

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Our biggest tourism challenge

barbados-beach

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

If I could single out an overwhelming major factor that is holding back the recovery of our tourism sector, number one on the list would have to be lack of implementation.

A close second would have to be the prolonged time it takes to conceptualise and launch new initiatives and marketing programmes, while ensuring they are fully functional and deliver the desired objectives.

Yes, some may make all sorts of other excuses like an aging plant, but if we get both the above right, then it would provide a solution to this and most of the other challenges we are facing.

This July marks a full year since a one hour plus media conference with two Ministers of Government was held unveiling a Ten Point Tourism Plan.

Exactly how many of those points have been fully implemented twelve months later and if not, why?

Extraordinary concessions to Sandals destroyed any ‘Tourism Master Plan’

I can no longer recall just how many times I have heard that the Tourism Master Plan is going to be revealed shortly. You have to question does it now indeed have any current significant relevance, since the entire industry was turned on its head after extraordinary unilateral concessions were granted to the Sandals companies.

Way back in March the Minister announced it was finally finished and sitting on his desk. Is it now buried or will it eventually see the light of day?  Continue reading

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Daily Buzz features re-Discover Barbados menus

The Daily Buzz is a syndicated morning news program that airs in over 175 US television markets. I have no idea if the Barbados Tourism Authority paid for this, or if the show put it together without payment – but it’s not bad!

Are we allowed to know whether we paid for this and how much? Why not?

If you want to enjoy some wonderful Bajan cuisine for very little money at our finest restaurants, check out re-Discover Barbados.

 

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Time for the Barbados Museum to stop hoarding! Must become an active worldwide promoter of Barbados History… and of Historical Tourism

Barbados Museum

Barbados Museum & Historical Society suffers from a Hoarding Mentality

Submitted by BMHS longtime member Sinsten Merriweather (BFP editor: as contrived a name as we’ve every seen!)

The Barbados Museum’s website claims they have a collection over half a million ‘artefacts‘ (yes, that’s how they spell the word to the world online) that “tells the story of the people of Barbados and preserves our history for future generations.”

“Indeed, our history is preserved for future generations because none of the current generation can access it.”

… BFP’s Cliverton

The Museum has photos of precisely 19 of those 500,000 artifacts displayed online, with no explanation, description or provenance attached.

Do you want to know what the Barbados Museum has in inventory that might interest you? Well, don’t look for a list or a working searchable database online – you’ll have to email Mrs. Marcia Griffith and in a few days she might (or might not) get back to you with further clarifications. God forbid that the museum actually put a database online where people can search for topics, historical periods, artifacts and documents that interest them!

Barbados Museum Website

And half the time the existing website (as limited as it is in vision and function) doesn’t work, or maybe sometimes might perhaps work… if, sort of.

Missing: A vision of Telling the History of Barbados to the world

What is the Mission Statement of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society? Your guess is as good as mine and I’ve been a member for over ten years. If I had to guess, I’d say that the mission of the BM&HS is to do whatever the current management, staff and Board desire as their whim without reference to any written mission statement.

It is true that in the last ten, and especially the last five years, the leadership have done some wonderful things with little money. In particular some of the bus tours of the island (not many recently though) awakened a thirst for Bajan history amongst some of the young people.

But…

… the Barbados Museum is falling down disastrously in making history accessible to the people. In this day, that means online – not just certain items displayed in a glass case to those who visit a physical building. The mission statement should be to make Barbados history available to anyone around the world, instantly, and in so doing to encourage people to take an interest in Barbados and to visit our country (and to spend their money while doing so!)

What the Barbados Museum should be   Continue reading

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Glut of cheap Caribbean cruise ships hurting Barbados tourism and island economy

How many cruise ships are too many for Barbados?

How many cruise ships are too many for Barbados?

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

According to a recent Travel Weekly (TW) article a total of 30 cruise ships will be sailing in the Caribbean this summer with Carnival alone offering over 1,600 cruises in the region across the entire year.

Hindsight is a truly wonderful thing, but it would have been difficult not to predict the massive over-capacity estimated at 19 percent, that has been created in 2014. Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, described the ‘Caribbean train wreck’ as a product of a ‘lemming theory’. He went on to add ‘we all sat in our rooms and did our itinerary planning – on our own, or course – and we all concluded it made sense to go into the Caribbean’.

Ken Muskat, MSC’s senior vice President was equally candid, describing the situation as ‘oversaturated with inventory’.

“Whether you describe this scenario as over-capacity or under-demand inevitably the result has lead to dramatic price discounting, with daily all-inclusive rates lowered than US$43 per person/day on some cruises.”

“Land based tourism accommodation providers do not stand a ‘snowball in hell’ chance of competing with these rates…”

Probably what at least partially influenced the key players into redeploying more vessels to the Caribbean this year was the poor performance of its ships in Europe between 2010 and 2012, due to weak economies and the reluctance of many North Americans to pay higher transatlantic airfares.  Continue reading

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Another ‘driver lost control’ Barbados bus accident

Previous accident: Drivers should be careful not to apply de brakes too hard as the wheels are only semi-attached to the bus!

Previous accident: Drivers should be careful not to apply de brakes too hard as de wheels are only semi-attached to the bus!

Overloaded, top-heavy, too fast, poorly maintained

It is becoming a weekly news story: “Bus driver loses control, (insert number) Injured.” This week’s accident is reported in Barbados Today as 13 injured in bus accident in St. George. Oh… wait… that was last week’s accident at Taitts Road with Cenetta Bennett driving. The driver in this week’s accident at Rowans Road is ‘R. Headley’: 13 hurt in bus accident.

Perhaps the newspapers should reserve a space on the front page of the Saturday edition each week to feature a photo of the latest bus on its side while emergency personnel lift casualties from the wreck. Even the tourists write with horror about taking the bus. The latest TripAdvisor story on Barbados buses asks What drugs are the Barbados bus drivers on?

It is certainly true that the speed and recklessness of many drivers play major parts in the bus disasters – but there are other factors that the government doesn’t want to see or talk about.  Continue reading

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British hero soldier Brian Mulligan stabbed to death in Barbados

No arrests reported

Brian-Mulligan-Barbados-MurderBrian Mulligan has been worth only a paragraph or two if that in the local news media since his stabbing death early Sunday morning at the tourist-popular St. Lawrence Gap, Christ Church. Today the British papers are full of his photos in Barbados and holding his new-born. (London Evening Standard: London father-of-two stabbed to death in Barbados)

At this point, who knows what happened? Mr. Mulligan was mostly deaf after having both ears ruptured by a grenade in Iraq. He had been here for a few weeks working for Lime Telecom.

One thing we do know though: this island does not feel the way it felt even five years ago, and ignoring the problem is no solution.

Today the world’s newspapers are full of Brian Mulligan’s death in Barbados, but once again a foreign national has died at a Bajan tourist area and we see nothing in our own news media. No words from the PM or the Tourism Minister. No press conference by the police to communicate that Barbados is horrified and doing everything it can to find the culprits.

Nope. None of that… while the world’s news media goes big on the story. Just like what happened when Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld was murdered.

How long until our leaders recognize that you can’t hide stuff like this anymore?

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re-Discover Barbados dinner promotion takes off!

barbados restaurants

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

This last week has been what can only be described as an adventure in learning or how to maximise the results of a microscopic marketing budget while transforming a concept into a revenue generating tool.

Hopefully it will play at least a small role in maintaining viability and employment in our tourism sector. (See the re-Discover Barbados website for a list of the great restaurants participating in this promotion.)

The very first lesson learnt is that you cannot expect to achieve this by yourself, but need ‘likeminded’ people who are willing to donate their time and often incredible skills to take the initiative to a higher level.

Another prerequisite is having a cluster of interested players who can see beyond normal existing boundaries or to rely upon a rather over used term, ‘think outside the box’.

It is then also absolutely critical that the initiative is supported at a national level rather than ruling out ideas that may appear to be emanating from personalities or messengers who may not garner universal approval. Using the social media, I have frankly been amazed at the reach it is possible to achieve, at no or very low cost. By targeting specific areas and special interest groups, a higher take-up level is clearly attainable.

re-discover barbadosThe Barbados Tourism Authority have given their full support by compiling superbly written full page features in both local newspapers and have already, or are about to issue media releases throughout all major markets. Ideally these will be used by travel publications and trade press to spread the word to a massive potential audience.  Continue reading

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Adrian Loveridge: Barbados tourist industry should also target smaller niche markets

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

June is traditionally one of the most challenging months of the year. In fact, June 2013 recorded the lowest number of long stay visitors for that month during the last 11 consecutive years.

The most recent national marketing initiatives, notably the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion, have clearly not made any significant difference.

Some even may argue that ‘we’ have spent precious marketing dollars diluting average visitor spend rather than generating any meaningful additional numbers to our shores. This may partially explain why the programme was not repeated in the United Kingdom this year, but surprisingly retained in other markets.

If it has not yet been subjectively analysed, I think it’s time to look at specific ways we can target niches that may have a reason to travel in these softer summer months. While this seems blatantly obvious, I am not always sure we apply the principal in the most objective way.  Continue reading

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Barbados dining out campaign tries to offset broken government promises to reduce the VAT.

Look At That View! The Naniki Restaurant

Look At That View! The Naniki Restaurant

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

If there was ever a time when the expression ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’, then it was perhaps written to present a personal challenge over the last couple of weeks, while trying to resurrect one of the most successful dine-around programmes in recent history.

Some restaurants understand and assess the merits immediately, even though it may not produce the profits that they would either like or require, on all business generated.

But in these days – guaranteed uniform profitability is not a reality. Almost all airlines use sales and other offers to fill a critical percentage of their seats just as hotels contract lower than rack rates with tour operators to achieve a minimum viable occupancy mass.

Other tourism entities are not isolated from this actuality in the way business is now conducted.  Continue reading

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Barbados Top Gear Festival is over. What now?

“Hopefully the Top Gear Festival will have redressed the low tourist arrivals problem for this month, but with almost half a year of the softer summer months yet to come, what can we do to grow the most receptive markets?”

Recommendations: Smarter partnerships, and a focus upon Great Britain and Continental Europe

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Back in the nineteen seventies while I was working in Canada as a travel agent we pioneered a number of what were then ‘unique smart partnerships’ with airlines and hotel groupings.

One of the most successful was an arrangement with Wardair on the Winnipeg-Gatwick (London) route, where our agency block booked groups on certain dates to obtain a lower price. The benefit to the traveller, our customer, was that if they flew on these particular specified dates, they would get their first or last night’s airport accommodation at no extra cost.

What prompted these memories was trying recently to find a more affordable way of getting my wife to the UK shortly for family reasons. We ended up booking a flight to Manchester, simply because it is currently far less expensive than flying to a London airport.

Despite then still having to travel over 220 miles to where she is staying, off-peak rail travel is very reasonably priced and virtually door-to-door with a minimum number of station changes.

The longest part of the land journey is between Manchester and Euston and is operated by Virgin Trains. This prompted me to look carefully at the incredible network they operate and a closer study of the ticket prices and overall journey times to other major northern British cities. Huge population centres that include Liverpool are only about an hour away and Edinburgh and Glasgow between three and four hours from Manchester Airport.  Continue reading

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Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. must start with improving the basics

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Even after fifty years in the tourism industry, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how the industry is constantly changing and barely a day goes by without some new insight or revelation emerging which affects the way we do business.

Probably one of the biggest paradigm shifts has been the Internet and this is still constantly evolving. Concepts that ten or twenty years ago would have then been thought far-fetched are today in everyday practice, generating new sources of revenue and employment.

But I wonder if we place a high enough value on the source and management relating to much of this information, particularly when you see websites at a national level being so poorly maintained and frequently found outdated.

For many visitors, especially those traveling here for the first time, this is often an early point of reference to assist in decision making and selection choice. Therefore it is critical that the quality of our site has to be at least to the standard of our competitors.

Hopefully this will become a priority for the new Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), and they will return the day-to-day operation of www.visitbarbados.org to local people with proven ability, knowledge and who fully understand the product offering. Continue reading

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Typical: 1/ Wall off the coast. 2/ Provide no parking for beach-goers. 3/ Advertise the beach to tourists.

Barbados Beach Problems (click photo for large)

Tear down these walls!

It’s a good thing there is no truth in advertising, for instead of showing the usual photos of bikini clad lovelies frolicking on the Bajan sand between blue sea and green foliage, we’d have to show a wall of concrete condos blocking the sun and the view – with nary a path for people to find their way to the beach.

Parking? You mek sport! Why would our esteemed leaders ever give a care to provide parking spots near the very beaches upon which this island’s economy depends?

Fools they are, and fools we are for letting them continue to sell every last piece of land with not a thought about what happens when large stretches of beach are inaccessible except to the few elites who can afford to live right there.

Unfinished concrete skeletons dot the coast. TEAR DOWN THESE WALLS and let the people access the beach!

Beach Bummer

IT IS fast becoming one of the most popular beaches in Barbados, especially among visitors, but there is a snag.

The beach, located along the busy highway at The Garden, St James, has no parking space. As a result, visitors park their vehicles along Storehouse Gap, just opposite the road leading to the beach, resulting in the two-lane road being restricted to one lane for traffic going in both directions…

Read it all in The Nation

(and thanks to The Nation for the photo)

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Crop Over 2014 under pressure

“Has Barbados Crop Over become less attractive?

Should the blame be on higher airfares, especially in the case of T & T – or are there other mitigating factors?”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

July 2013 recorded the lowest number of long stay visitors (47,953) during the same period for 13 consecutive years, so I find it not at all surprising that our policymakers have discussed dramatically curtailing certain events for Crop Over 2014. However, I believe a better analysis is needed to explain away the reasons behind this dismal performance. If you look at the principal markets in the last two years, the figures will reveal that the biggest losses in July 2013 were from the USA (down 10 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (down 9.2 per cent) and what are defined as Other Countries (down 12.4 per cent).

In all, July 2013 recorded 3,318 less stay over visitors than 2012. This was on the heels of a loss of an overall 6,984 visitors when compared with July 2011. In July 2012 the largest declines were USA (down 18.1 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (down 10.2 per cent), Other Caricom (down 20 per cent) and Other Countries (down 13.1 per cent). So for the last two years a combined decline of over 10,000 stay-over visitors for the month of July alone.

Has Barbados Crop Over become less attractive? Should the blame be on higher airfares, especially in the case of T & T – or are there other mitigating factors?

Perhaps more of a surprise is the announcement by Sandals Resorts to delay the re-opening of their Barbados property to 28th January 2015. With the frequently discussed dearth of construction work it would beg the question, why could the vaunted US$65 million renovation project not be completed on time – specially when you take into account that the additional lost six weeks covers what the hospitality industry considers the most profitable and highest occupancy period of the entire year?

At published rack rates that could equate to a revenue deficit of between US$7.7 and US$19 million for the 42 day additional closure! As it has been already established the vast majority of Sandals earnings are collected offshore, so the ‘real’ amount that Barbados will lose cannot be easily calculated.

Of even more concern nationally is the roughly 3,000 airline seats, which may not be filled as a result of the prolonged shutdown that could influence frequency and will detrimentally impact overall long stay visitor arrival numbers. While not openly discussed, some thought has to be given to neighbouring accommodation providers in the immediate vicinity of Sandals Casuarina and the economic negative consequences that ten months of construction will have on occupancy. Possibly Government has factored in some sort of relief for these disadvantaged properties with exemption of land taxes for the period.

While the summer may be the ideal time to undertake this work, I am sure very few hotels could afford to write off all or part of a peak winter season as a result of prolonged redevelopment with its associated noise, dust, discomfort and disruption.

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Irony: Shot tourists return as guests of Barbados – as another tourist is shot.

tourist shot Barbados

“I would not mind getting shot again to go through that! It really was a fantastic holiday and they did us so proud. It was quite overwhelming.

Everybody was so kind and so concerned, and so very, very happy that we had gone back, but for us, it did not hold any fear or trepidation.”

DISS Express: Couple shot on Barbados holiday return for “holiday of a lifetime”

March 3, 2014 Ipswisch Star: Philip and Ann Prior to return to Barbados a year after shooting

March 17, 2013 BFP: British tourists shot in broad daylight – Sunday afternoon walkabout in Bridgetown

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Is it the government’s policy that tourists get a two week all-expenses-paid free vacation if they are shot during a visit? Does this offer apply to the most recent victims, or just Mr. and Mrs Prior?

Should we advertise this as a feature of vacationing in Barbados? I can see the advertisement now:

“Our Bajan vacation guarantee: Should things go terribly wrong, we’ll give you a free holiday once you’ve recovered!”

Many will say that I am being unreasonable by bringing this up, but my point is not that we shouldn’t have looked after these good people (or any visitors having some trouble to any degree). My point is that something is going terribly wrong on this island and has been going terribly wrong for a number of years. And it is getting worse.

At the same time that Mr. and Mrs. Prior were here for their free ‘compensation holiday’, another tourist (this one from Canada) was fighting for his life after being shot…

On March 12, 2014, four gunmen burst into a rented beach apartment at Bath and shot Canadian tourist Johnathan Huddle in front of his wife and 11 month old daughter. Fortunately Mr. Huddle survived – according to various reports because he and his wife are both trained soldiers with tours in Afghanistan…

… from BFP’s One month after Canadian tourist shot – no excuse for 1 hour ambulance wait

And there have been many other incidents in the last year. Is it just me, or is it all going to hell?

name withheld by request

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More unemployment coming to Barbados hotel and tourism sector

“Government will eventually have to decide what it wants – Tax the industry out of existence or put in place the reforms discussed over decades that clearly have made a significant difference for a solitary player.

Or, apply the reforms uniformly to alleviate the current national imbalance.”

Hotel layoffs the natural result of Government failure to keep promises

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

It is now a full six months since companies trading under the Sandals Resorts brand were granted unilateral extraordinary concessions never before seen in the long history of our tourism industry. Despite repeated assurances given to the tourism sector, once again implementation is sadly lacking and as we enter the long eight summer months the industry is left floundering to second guess pricing and marketing strategies that will help it survive yet another year.

Criticism is leveled again at some hoteliers for not passively submitting to the prices dictated by tour operators, which ultimately has led to further airlift losses from a market that is especially attractive in terms of average duration of stay. But pray tell me, how can any Government official expect a single accommodation provider to agree fixed contract rates up to eighteen months ahead of arrival date when they have no overall idea on what those rates are based on?

It really has to reflect the height of lunacy when the remarks are uttered by someone who holds the ultimate power together with his cabinet colleagues to return the industry to viability. Until this is done the chance of competing with many other Caribbean destinations at the same level remains only a distant dream.

Surely by now our policymakers understand the basics of how the travel business is structured and the timing required to put programmes in place. Continue reading

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