OK, to be fair… the title is our summary of what Barbados Tourism Authority board member Adrian Loveridge says in his latest report to the people of Barbados.
Adrian makes some astonishing revelations in this article and we agree 100 percent with his main point, which is (we think)… The Barbados Tourism Authority needs the best, most accurate and comprehensive information possible to achieve the best outcome for Barbados in spending their 80 million dollar budget.
Barbados Hotel Room Stock
While visiting the offices of the Barbados Tourism Authority recently, I collected a copy of what I assume is the latest list of all registered accommodation on Barbados.
The brochure is entitled Rates – Hotels, Guest Houses and Apartments – Winter 2007 -2008 December 16th 2007-2008 To April 15th 2008 and Summer 2008 April 16th, 2008 to December 15th, 2008.
According to the listings to have 64 hotels with a total of 5,147 rooms, 19 Guest Houses with a total of 123 rooms and 64 Apartments with a total of 1,090 rooms!
The average size our hotels is 80 rooms and Apartments is 13 rooms.
If you exclude our six largest hotels (Almond Beach Village, Almond Beach Club, the Hilton, the Crane, Accra and Turtle Beach) which account for 1,541 rooms that takes the average size down to 62 rooms.
What stands out from my perspective?
Well, first the fact that we now have just as many Apartment properties as Hotels.
From my reading of the mandate of the Barbados Tourism Authority and the Constitution of Barbados is that all hotels, apartments and guest houses offering accommodation must be registered.
Yet read through a telephone directory, drive around the island or simply Google Barbados accommodation and we will find literally dozens of properties that do not appear in the BTA listing.
It is even more remarkable when you consider some of the properties which carry the name ‘hotel’ and that are not listed, have as many as 120 rooms.
According to statistics published, our average annual occupancy, which I presume is based on registered hotels, guest houses and apartment’s is around 51%.
Based on an average stay of 7 nights, with two persons sharing one room and on the basis that our total of 6,360 registered are recording an annual occupancy of 51%, that produces a grand total of 1,183,914 occupied room nights.
Divide that number by the average stay of 7 nights and multiply that by two persons (per room) and it means that our registered properties are only accommodating around 338,000 of our long stay guests.
With a total of somewhere around 550,000 long stay visitors each year, it therefore begs the question, where are the other 212,000 persons or nearly 39% of the total staying?
Yes! Barbados has a significant number of VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) traffic, and we of course have a sizeable number of villas and condominiums.
But 212,000 long stay arrivals per year, not staying in one of our traditional registered accommodation providers?
As primarily a marketing person, I would need to know, before spending any significant part of a promotional budget, exactly who I am targeting.
To make limited resources most effective, that would mean knowing what type of accommodation are the overwhelming percentage of our market looking for?
The President of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association recently publicly called for a moratorium on the construction of new hotels on that island.
The reason for the call was that currently their hotels are achieving an occupancy level of 65%, against ours of 51%.
I would like to finish in stating that these observations do not represent criticism of any organisation or body, but more in the interests of ensuring that, what in anybody’s terms, a large budget of $80 million a year is spent in the most productive way.
27 April 2008