How Long To Pay Back $51 Million Barbados “Investment” In Harrison’s Cave?

Answer: A Long, Long Time…

Before Harrison’s Cave closed it was Barbados’s most visited attraction with around 150,000 people each year paying on average an admission fee of BDS$20, when children and tour groups are taken into account.

From media reports the upgraded facility will be re-opening shortly for ICC World Cup Cricket then close again until November 2007.

The adult full price admission will then be increased to BDS$40.

Therefore to recoup the $51 million ‘investment’ before any allowances are made for staffing and operational costs or repayment of interest, and wrongly assuming that each visitor will pay the full $40 entrance charge, at current visitation levels it will take eight and a half years to recover the debt.

Add on the interest payable, staffing and all the other associated expenses and it is difficult to comprehend how yet another Government owned private company can recoup the vast amounts of money ploughed into it.

The acting Caves of Barbados Inc., CEO quoted figures of 60,000 cruise ship passengers and another 40,000 long stay visitors attending the World Cup Cricket matches being held in Barbados, but are these figures really plausible?

Less than 30,000 overseas visitors attended the last ICC World Cup Cricket event and we have already been told hotel occupancy is only around 60 per cent.

Of the quoted 18 cruise ships mooring in Bridgetown, this is now apparently down to 11, including what can only be described as mega yachts which accommodate around 100 passengers.

Is this yet another GEMS in the making?

The Minister of Tourism has to explain the figures and justification for spending $51 million and exactly how this enormous figure is going to be repaid.

Adrian Loveridge
13 March 2007


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

16 responses to “How Long To Pay Back $51 Million Barbados “Investment” In Harrison’s Cave?

  1. Patrick Porter

    This will take as long as GEMS to sort out. They think that 100,000 will visit during CWC, where are they getting their numbers from? A lot of the visits to the caves come from locals, are they expected to pay the full $40.00? I have read a lot of studies done with regard to the Olympics and they never had turn outs like that. I think that some one who gave out these numbers must be on ESA Fields see thru.
    I can’t still understand why the Government would start a project like this when they were already paying for the CWC, it still does not make sense to me. But I am only a joe on the street, not in the league with the big ups

  2. Proud Bajan

    I have to agree that this is too much money to spend , work was needed but $51M seems way out of line. The question now is having spent the money will we do like we do with all Govt buildings ( I understand work is on recepition building and offices not cave itself…subject to correction) and let it run to ruin over the next few years.
    Patrick I don’t think you are right re where visitors originate while many locals visit the vast majority of visitors as I understand it come from Cruise Industry, and to a lesser extent local hotels like Adrians.

  3. Is it not obvious that when Government lends millions to its own specially formed private company, there is very little supervision of where the money goes?

    There is the strong likelihood of “payoffs” to cronies, in the form of commissions for equipment etc. And guess which party the staff will belong to!

    Additionally, having set up a company to earn millions annually (B$40 x 150,000= $6myn gross revenue before expenses) who is going to keep track of the integrity of those expenses?

    It is obvious the $50myn “investment” will never be repaid even if it is arithmetically possible. An annual profit after expenses of $4myn would be needed just to service the debt.

    Goverment has no moral right to create its own commerical ventures where selected individuals can reap the profits free of scrutiny and criticism.
    Doing so is a blatant temptation to gorge at the pig trough.

  4. reality check

    well lets start with the fact that serious discounts are granted to tour operators for group tours all over the island.

    This represents a large percentage of all sales so right off the bat you can’t do the proper arithmetic until you factor this in. $20 is the ticket price if you walk in off the street.

    I don’t know why we would expect this kind of accountability from those who are accountable only to themselves? More misspending and no transparency.

  5. Bajanboy

    I do not think the cave was ever meant to be a profitable enterprise giving an acceptable rate of return on its investment. That does not mean, however, that should be no accountability.

    I heard that they are going to expand the caves, and have elevators taking people down to the caverns so that they are free to walk around on their own. The current product is tired and poorly organsied, so as Barbados’ premier attraction, it needs to be modernised. However, $50 million seems like a lot of money.

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  7. Fustrated Farmer


  8. Fustrated Farmer


  9. Patrick Porter

    You see we trying to operate Barbados on Champagne life style but we only got a mauby budget, so everything got cost a lot of money with no idea a where to pay for it from so long as Owing and he boys covered that is all that matters

  10. Adrian Loveridge

    I have just listened to every word spoken by the Minister of the Tourism during the post budget debate and can only assume that he is dillusional.

    No mention of the hotel occupancy crisis, no mention of the US$15 million taxpayer subsidy to Carnival Corporation of the 25 x 40 foot containers for all their supplies, no mention of the 25 hotels that have during the BLP government.

    No mention of the 2,000 tourism jobs lost between 2002 and 2004.

    No mention of the GEMS scandal, the unpaid loan and interest in excess of $200 million or exactly where the proceeds of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock went?

    And now ‘the worlds largest home port’ has become the ‘largest in this hemisphere’.
    Role over Port Everglades, Miami, San Juan etc.

    Instead its more and more rhetoric, believing he can hoodwink people that have worked 23 years in the industry before he started his first proper job as a marketing assistant.

    Of course you can make the more gullible population believe spending is up (everything is up due to an inflation rate of 7.2% and climbing).
    And by counting home port passengers both as air arrivals and manifest cruise ship numbers

    Didn’t anyone hear the EVP of the BHTA state on CBC that although arrival numbers were up in 2006 by 16,000, spending was below 2005 levels.

    What does that tell you even if inflation wasn’t put at 7.2%.

    Whats the old saying, you can fool some of the people, some of time, but you can’t fool all the people, all of the time.

  11. page

    Barney Lynch work 23 years in tourism?

    where? wasnt he a nothingnarian before getting lucky

    with blp when sandiford lost his mind and

    government….2×3 bridgetown port could never be largest

    home port…yes adrian more Lynch hogwash

  12. Wishing in Vain

    You are absolutely right that was half an hour of absolute diatripe nonsense, this person ( I have chosen not to state if he or she as I am uncertain of the sexual leaning of the person) the reply left me wondering if I was living in Barbados or in another far off world.

  13. This Harrison’s Cave plan is rather smelley. I am deeply concerned about this Government policy of creating private companies under the Companies Act CAP 308 an dthen having these companies financed directly and indirectly by Government coffers. As a result we are seeing a few multi-millionaires popping up….. earning their income from these shady projects.

    $51 million is way too much for HC project. We will not break even in my life time … and I am under 4o yrs old

  14. Patrick Porter

    Again you have given a good account. I would like to know where the BHTA get their numbers from. As when I come home every winter I do not see the number of tourists that I used to and don’t tell me they all hide in their rooms etc
    The Minister of Tourism, whom I have not had the unpleasure of meeting seems to be on something, maybe one of you can tell me
    It seems that the lies that ae being fed to the country has worled for theBarbados Landless Party, they going to build everything and then put us all on Culpepper island with our jackasses, actually they have more sense than the average Bajan, judging by how they love Owing and his band of bandits

  15. 51 Million Bucks - yow!

    That’s a lotta money going into a hole in the ground.
    As soon as The Wife heard of the new $40 admittance fee, she said she wouldn’t be going again, and I agree:
    – that’s $80 for a couple to get thru their door!
    In my world, that is more than a week’s gasoline for Ye Toyota!

    And if/when the DLP win the election, and the economic truth is revealed, and times get hard, you’ll hear that it was the DLP’s fault.
    “Look soon as dey get in… tings turn bad bad bad…hoh-hoy!”

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