If Barbados Attracted More “Rich People”, Would All Our Tourism Worries End?

If Only It Were That Simple.

Yes! Barbados does reasonably well attracting ‘rich’ people but that is not how it survives in the real world of tourism.

St. Lucia is on the brink of surpassing Barbados in national annual tourism earnings with less rooms. Although they are adding more and more each year. Around 1,000 rooms this year alone.

Barbados has lost 27 hotels over the last 13 years, being either simply closed down or converted into condominiums.

Offering value for money accommodation in Barbados is difficult but not impossible. You only have to Google News ‘affordable Caribbean’ and you will see our small property has attracted substantial media coverage over the last month, including:

New York Sunday Times
British Daily Telegraph
Toronto Star
Florida Sun Sentinel

Our most expensive room in the peak winter season is US$109 plus tax per night.

That is why we are full until mid April.

We haven’t had to discount room rates or offer an up to US$300 per person taxpayer subsidy which has been the single marketing tool of the BTA for six years.
You only have to look at the TripAdvisor website to see where Barbados is failing, in terms of level of service delivery and value for money.

Filling your hotels with bottom end tour operator business may help maintain the arrival numbers, but it does not sustain meaningful growth and improvement.

Again, Google News ‘Air Challenge’ and you will find a story which appeared in the Barbados Advocate recently.

We have lost over 67,000 airlines seats in the first nine months of 2007, but here you have a Minister of Tourism stating ‘the jury is still out on condominium conversion’.
67,000 seats is the sum total of loosing a daily B777 or not having the benefit of British Airways at all.

Until you start listening to people with proven expertise and ability, then I honestly see further declines both in terms of arrival numbers and average visitor spend.

We are not even keeping up in terms of the rate of inflation currently.

Adrian Loveridge

The above was written by hotelier Adrian Loveridge as a quick comment in reply to another reader who suggested that “more rich people” coming to Barbados would be a solution to our tourism concerns.

We thought that it was so on point that we grabbed Adrian’s comment and posted it as an article. You can read it in the original commentary here.

Hey, thanks for the quick article Adrian!

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8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Traveling and Tourism

8 responses to “If Barbados Attracted More “Rich People”, Would All Our Tourism Worries End?

  1. reality check

    truth is not a very respected product in Barbados

    certain people in Barbados owe you a huge apology and the rest owe you a deep thank-you.

  2. Bajanboy

    Adrian:

    I think you need to double check that figure for St. Lucian tourist expediture compared to Barbados. I saw a figure of $1 billion estimated for St. Lucia for 2007, but that is EC$, which equates to Bds$740 million. Tourism earnings in Barbados in 2003 were about Bds$1.5 billion, so in 2007 it is probably closer to Bds$2 billion.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    BajanBoy…

    Good point,but the article I took the figure from was in Prensa Latina (Cuba) entitled ‘Integration of Caribbean Tourism is still a Dream’
    and the exact phrase is ‘one billion dollars’.

    Reading the full article, I think you will agree that the currency is in US$.

    Of course, I stand to be corrected.

  4. james

    Adrian,
    You make alot of sense as always. However, developing a predominantly upscale tourism product is one of the few ways that Barbados can hope to compete in the future. As in everything else including services, manufacturing and agriculture, we are simply unable to compete on price at mass market levels. If we do not move towards the upper end of the tourism spectrum, we are likely to slowly lose to much cheaper Caribbean destinations. I suspect that even the success of hotels like yours has less to do with pricing and more with service and operational excellence. The key of course, and as you mention is Value For Money. Of course, upscale does not just mean expensive – it means an excellent product at a reasonable price for that product. Barbados is a fabulous destination brand but is, and will, suffer increasingly in comparison to Asia (cheap, excellent service) and other Caribbean islands (cheaper, not so sure about the service) unless we develop a niche and stick to it. There will always be room for hotels like Peach and Quiet that are well run and offer accomodation at a reasonable price but as a whole I think that we need to look upwards for stable, profitable visitor growth.

  5. Straight talk

    The reason we need to continue the upscale strategy is IMHO they will be the only people able to afford the rapidly rising airfares of the next decade.

    By 2020 there may be no tourists!

    Now going back down behind the parapet.

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    James…

    I agree with most of what you are saying, but it is NOT what our tourism policymakers are doing.

    Can you image, that St. Lucia is on the brink of exceeding our annual tourism earnings with less rooms?

    ‘unless we develop a niche market and stay with it’

    I, 100% agree, but look at the evidence.
    For SIX years the only national marketing campaign the country has had is the Best of Barbados programme where the taxpayer has subsidised each package by up to US$300 per person.

    Do you really think this is the way to target rich people?

    ‘We’ are sending mixed messages.

    One side is saying that we are this millionaires paradise and the other side is saying that the only way we can coax you here is to sell you the package at below cost.

    No-one on this planet can convince me that the BTA’s annual budget of between $70 million and $80 million cannot be spent better!

  7. Wishing in Vain

    It is with some amusement that I read on page 24 A of today’s Nation Newspaper that the PM is stating the Beach Access is a must, how funny can he be.

    Then to drive along the coast road in ST.JAMES as recently as yesterday and to see the BARRIER IS IN PLACE AND WORKING AT THE ENTRANCE TO COLONY CLUB AND HERON BAY HOUSE.

    You know Mr. PM these grand statements that you make and that are as empty as ever, and hold no water, when you grandstand about the locals must have accesses to the beach but then turn around and approve TCP permissions that prevent locals from that access, what are you really saying and really doing?

    These the vacant mouthing’s of Arthur, but still he allows his rich friends to carry out the injustice of blocking our rights of access to some of the best beaches in this island by the erection of multi million dollar homes and condos is it really a show of caring by he and his clan of corrupt crooks?

    If he or the Minister had the will power and guts to confront those that have erected this barrier it would have long time ago disappeared but we will never see that, because he is too dependant on the funds from this group of wealthy foreigners, to worry about the rights of us the citizens of this island.

    That is it in a nutshell, simple and plain!!!!

    TIME FOR A CHANGE AND NEW DIRECTION IN THIS ISLAND.

  8. Craig Daniell

    Adrian Loveride makes some good points. I have travelled to Barbados many times over the last 20 years and each time I visit I reflect on the lack of genuine tourists. 15 years ago it was difficult to get a seat at my favourite bar….today I am often the only person at it. Competition is a fact of life. In Toronto where I live when I can’t live in Barbados, I very seldom see Barbados advertised as a destination but I do see heavy advertsing on Mexcio, Cuba and the Dominican R. When I check the adds, I realzie that most people from Canada can go to one of the above mentioned destinations, stay in a 5 star hotel, have all of their meals and refeshments, all for not much more than the price of a Air Canada Ticket to BGI. There is a lack of young people arrving at BGI to vacation. Somehow that has to be reversed and one of the first places to look would be getting another airline to fly from Canada on a regular basis that can offer competitive pricing. Will condo conversions correct the problem. Who knows, time will tell.