Daily Archives: February 16, 2007

Say “Aruba” – Think “Natalee Holloway”


Lessons From The Holloway Disappearance

We are continually surprised at the number of press releases and other publicity pieces that we receive every day. To look at our email, you’d figure we were a “real” news organization instead of some friends who had an idea on New Year’s Eve two years ago – while passing a rum bottle around a fire on the beach.

Today we received a newsletter from a travel industry publication Travel Wire News that caused us to think about the vulnerability our own travel industry. The title hook to the lead story … “Aruba: Post-Natalee Holloway”

We’ve got news for Travel Wire News… it isn’t yet “Post-Natalee Holloway” for Aruba if your publication uses her name as a story hook – and that’s the simple truth. It is also the simple truth that an entire generation raised on the media and CNN will forever think “Natalle Holloway” when they hear the word “Aruba” in any context.

Lessons For Barbados Tourism

In my opinion, Aruba’s longterm fallout from the Natalle Holloway disappearance/murder/incident stems not from the tragedy itself – for tourist deaths, robberies, injuries and disappearances are not unknown at any travel destination. For Aruba, the damage resulted from the government and police response to her disappearance – both during the initial, obviously incompetent and corrupted police investigation and then as Aruba failed to counter an image that the Aruban elites are treated with kidd gloves and are above the law and common morality. In a word the perception was, “cover-up”.

Lesson one for Barbados therefore, is to realize that, once in a while, terrible things will happen on this island. Drunken teenaged tourists will get into cars with bad people while their school mates do nothing to prevent it, or the naive will go for a midnight swim in the surf – not thinking that hungry sharks come closer to shore for night feeding. These things will always happen no matter how much we try to prevent them.

Lesson two for Barbados is that the initial police response to any crime or incident must be thoroughly professional – because the performance of our police, medical profession and other first reponders will be held up to scrutiny and compared against the best in the world. Any incident involving foreigners, no matter how major or minor, has the potential to generate international media attention under a variety of circumstances.

Lesson three for Barbados is that the international traveling public will accept a few unfortunate tourist incidents – but only if there is not one hint of a cover-up or sloppy, uncaring response. Everybody knows that trouble happens – and they also know that what happens after the trouble occurs is the true test of any organization.

Lesson four for Barbados is that there should be a professional “international incident” response plan and policies in place. Perhaps 70% of our economy is tourist based in one way or another, and we should be responding to any incident with an attitude, resources and actions that show we care. For the police, that means that senior experienced officers are assigned from the first opportunity, and that senior management does everything it can to provide resources above and beyond the normal response. That might sound like a double standard when a victim is a tourist vs. a citizen – and it is – but the international scrutiny demands 110% and nothing less.

Sidenote: Maybe our blogging friend and Public Relations expert Karel McIntosh would care to weigh in on the issue of having a prepared response? We think that Adrian Loveridge could also lend some experience to the issue.

Look to Aruba to see the results of having no plan and no personnel in place to handle incidents that might involve international media attention. Street cops “winging it” in front of CNN cameras is a prescription for disaster.

Lesson five for Barbados is that it does much good to immediately invite foreign police investigators from the victim’s country to team up on the investigation. The egos of local police and political types must be left out of the equation. Foreign police investigators on the team provide information resources from the victim’s home country and a cultural perspective on the victim that Barbados police officers do not have. Foreign police services often have access to superior crime laboratories and other resources. Lastly, the inclusion of foreign police investigators goes a long way to remove any doubts about cover-ups.

The False Lesson Apparently Learned By Aruba’s Travel Industry…

The article from Travel Wire News seems to contain only one lesson that Aruba learned: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, in this case the American tourism market.

We think that is a false lesson because news and communications are everywhere. That Holloway was an American is less important than the fact that she was a young tourist whose disappearance was totally mishandled from the start. Aruba is now targeting the Spanish markets, but there is nothing to say that the next young girl who feeds the sharks won’t be Spanish!

Better to have a proper response, we think.

We’d be surprised if the “eggs in one basket” is the only lesson that Aruba picked up from their devastating tourism losses due to their pooched response to the Holloway disappearance.

Here’s an excerpt from that Travel Wire News article…

Putting all eggs in one basket – the American market – has proven to be unwise for Aruba. Back then, the island enjoyed 2004 as its record year. “The beginning of 2005 was good too; we could not even handle the business coming into Aruba. Unfortunately, we experienced the sad incident (Natalee Holloway disappearance) in May. We saw the downturn in the US market at the end of 2005 and beginning of 2006 translated to a drop of 14 percent in the 70 percent of our total business,” said Briesen.

Since this major fallout made a huge impact on tourism, seeking markets other than the US through the Spanish or any European chain offers Aruba a reasonable fallback position from today onwards.

No harder lesson than this setback has taught the Arubans about working exclusively with Americans or any single market, for that matter.

… read the entire article at Travel Wire News (link here)


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Traveling and Tourism

Urgent CARICOM Meeting About Regional Airlines, Fast Island Ferry – And Not A Moment Too Soon!

Cricket Fans Have Tickets But Can’t Get To St. Lucia From Barbados!

Two items of interest concerned with regional airlines and the Cricket World Cup…

First, we look at an email from a new BFP reader, and then we link to a Stabroek News article about an urgent CARICOM meeting called to consider regional transporation. It is very seldom we hear anything with CARICOM being described as “urgent”, so it is good to see those in charge realize that some things have to change and soon.

Here’s the email from our new BFP reader…

Dear BFP,

I am new to your site, although I have read almost all or your recent comments on Visa and World Cup matters with acute interest over the last couple of weeks. Glad to see there is a forum where people can say what they want to without being edited (except for bad language!)

Does anyone else have a bunch of friends from the UK who just soaked up remaining tickets for the semis in St. Lucia only to realise that they can’t get a flight (not even a charter) to get to the match from Barbados? I spent the entire day on the phone with no success. My friends spend thousands to get here on top of paying for the visa, then to realise that the tickets might be “lemons”. They can’t use them unless they get to the destination.

I suggest in the future that Mr. Clarke consider the fly-overs to end in one of the Caribbean countries… (just needed to vent!) This is a little more than silly. Who sorted out Airlift for world cup? Maybe citizens of this country I now gladly call my home can help me understand how this all works.. My friends are a group of seven but I am sure they are hundreds who will have the same problem.

Very frustrated and lost!!

Vision for regional airline to come up at urgent Caricom meet

A transportation policy and the vision for a regional airline are expected to be the major focus of an urgent special meeting of the Caricom Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on Air and Mari-time Transportation.

The mandate for this meeting on regional transportation issues has come out of the 18th Inter-Sessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM which met this week in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The conference also agreed that Bermuda should be invited to participate in the Special Meeting, a communique issued at the end of the inter-sessional meeting stated.

According to the communique, the conference arrived at that position after receiving reports from the shareholder governments on the long-term strategic plans of their national carriers and the implications of those plans for the region.


The conference also called for the participation of the regional private sector in the elaboration of the maritime transport policy. It noted, too, the conclusion of a recent study on the transportation of agricultural and other products within the Community and the call for the introduction of a fast ferry inter-island service to address the transportation of passengers and cargo.

… continue reading this article at Stabroek News (link here)


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, CARICOM, Cricket, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

Sir Charles Cow Williams Whines “I’m Not Investing In Barbados Anymore”

Charles Williams Barbados Godfather

Godfather Cow says “It’s not personal… It’s strictly business.” *

Sir Charles “Cow” Williams will now be taking the profits from all those fat Barbados government contracts and investing them offshore – meaning not in Barbados. Looks like Don COW is moving the family from New York to Las Vegas – er, make that Barbados to Argentina.

After decades of building his business and his personal fortune in Barbados – pretty well doing as he wished, obtaining a title and making hundreds of millions of dollars in the process – Sir COW whines like a spoiled little rich child in today’s Nation News..

“”I am no longer buying land in Barbados,” Sir Charles said, “because there are people who are apparently offended whenever I do. So I will be investing elsewhere . . . . (COW Williams in The Nation News – link here)

For a chap who has done so well by Barbados, Cow Williams doesn’t even have enough sense to keep his mouth shut about it. The contempt for the common people is palpable.

Sir COW Will Continue To Take Bajan Tax Dollars For Projects Large And Small!

His contempt for the little people isn’t enough to keep him and his company from continuing to take Barbados tax dollars though! As he lays the foundation for the future disaster at the Greenland Dump, you can bet that Sir Cow was smart enough to have the government indemnify him and his company against any liabilities for what is almost certain to happen.

He’s made gazillions in Barbados, but now that the hospital is shot and the country is running out of money – what does he do?

This is one of those small slips of the tongue that indelibly defines a person’s character in the public consciousness.

* “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.” . . . Al Pacino Playing Michael Corleone in The Godfather


Filed under Barbados, Business, Environment, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Academics Chided For Abandoning Public Debate – We Ask “Did They Jump Or Were They Pushed?”

Roy Morris has an excellent piece in The Nation News this morning – about how academics have abandoned public debate on important issues and how society is poorer for it.

A couple of points from Roy’s article are most telling. The first is this excerpt…

“Then, among the faculty that we have, a number of them are still on the way towards getting tenure, and achieving tenure requires hard work, attention to research, and some scholars opt to remain hidebound in their endeavours and to shy away from public discourse until they have secured their employment,” Marshall said.

“And then you have others who value their connections with Government and the business sector more than they would as scholars,and I think it really comes down to how one sees oneself as a scholar.”


Dr. Ikael Tafari’s Nose Stuck Way In The Air…

Proponent for the legalized use of marijuana and government-appointed head of the Commission for Pan African Affairs, Dr. Ikael Tafari, gives his opinion in the article on why academics are no longer participating in the public debate on societal issues.

His answer, when distilled down to “what he really said” goes something like this…

“The public is stupid and unworthy of our time. We are university-trained academics! Now… where did I put that splif? What were we talking about again? I’m hungry. Anyone have any chocolate biscuits?”

… read what Dr. Tafari really said and see if you don’t agree. Here’s the link: Voices of Silence


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues

The Aviation Nation – Anti-Terrorism Democracy In Action

The Aviation Nation is an e-Magazine that provides news and opinions about the state of our skies. Our goal is not to scare you or make you feel afraid to fly. Our goal is to help you understand what is really happening on board aircraft. To understand this, you must also know what goes on behind the closed doors and the high walls of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Our goal is simple: Knowledge is power.

What you can’t face, you can’t fix. But what you’re willing to face, you can fix. It’s true for a person, so it must be true for a democracy. We are the people.

Welcome to The Aviation Nation.

… from “About Us” at The Aviation Nation website (link here)

If The Flying Public Knew How Many Incidents Go Unreported In The Media, There Would Be A Rebellion

The Aviation Nation is written by anonymous airline employees and at least one (also anonymous) current U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee.

We have put up a permanent link on our sidebar under “Aviation”. Welcome aboard, friends!


Filed under Aviation