You Can Taste The Fear In Barbados – Travel Poised to “drop off a cliff” in January

The Government of Barbados has been sending a mixed message lately to the populace, and in fairness I tell you that whether the DLP or the BLP were in power, that conflicted message would be the same. Your government is scared stiff and they really don’t want to lose control of the message. The message is all they have left.

On one hand the government is assuring citizens that “As bad as things are everywhere, if we work together everything will be OK here. Your government is doing what needs to be done.”

On the other hand, the government is sending out a bigger SOS than anything Rihanna ever recorded. The Thompson gang has been appealing for – get this – philanthropists and the Bajan diaspora to bail out our Barbados.

Whoaloss! You’ve got to be in desperate trouble to be staking the country’s future on begging from charity and the diaspora!

Once again, you can blame the BLP for running gazillions in spending for which Barbados achieved no appreciable benefits, but for the moment it doesn’t matter – any Barbados government in power would be desperate. And it shows, despite their efforts to insulate the citizens from reality.

OK… so tourism is toast for the next few years. What about our offshore banking? Well, we have Thompson appealing to President-Elect Barack Obama to forget about what is good for the United States – don’t hurt our offshore banking and tax-avoidance industry. That should go over really well in Nebraska!

My friends, let me give you some advice to personally get through what we are going to face in the coming three or four years…

1/ Shun debt.

2/ Work hard. Harder than you ever have before. Make your employer and your customers regard you as invaluable and as a friend. Do it.

3/ Economise. Find new ways of saving money and not spending money. Forgo pleasures and materialistic desires. Save cash. Forge real stability in your life, relationships and finances. Reject the culture of “appearances”. Better a 10 year old auto that is paid for than a new 4×4 on the never-never.

4/ Maintain and develop the family relationships and friendships that will function in place of support from THE STATE. If you lose your job, if your company goes under, you will NOT be able to depend upon “de guvmnt.”  That day is over although most (and the government) do not realise it. Your family and friends will look after you during the bad periods. Realise this and treat them well. Look after your friends and family when bad things happen – even to your immediate detriment. (Read “Hawaii” by James Michener and focus on the Chinese lady who saved her family with hard work and wisdom.)

Things are much worse than folks let on. Take stock. Change your habits. Love your family and friends.

And that is all I can advise for the moment. Here is the article that made me stop for an hour today and consider the state of my family and the nation…

9 reasons ’09 will be the year of the ‘naycation’

If 2008 was the year of the staycation, then ’09 is bound to be the year of the naycation.

As in, nay — we’re not vacationing.

The conventional wisdom about travel is that it will slip by just a few percentage points next year. But the unconventional wisdom — supported by several troubling surveys — points to a much bigger drop. A recent Allstate poll found nearly half of all Americans plan to cut back on travel in 2009. An International SOS survey says slightly fewer of us — about 4 out of 10 Americans — are reducing their international trips next year. And a Zagat survey says at least 20 percent of us will travel less in ’09.

But that’s just the half of it. I’ve been talking with people in the industry, who tell me — direct quote here — that travel is poised to “drop off a cliff” in January. In other words, people are telling pollsters one thing but making other plans.

Specifically, they’re making no plans.

Here are nine reasons why 2009 will probably be known as the year of the “naycation” — and what it means for you…

… continue reading this article at eTurbo News: 9 reasons ’09 will be the year of the ‘naycation’

31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Offshore Investments, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

31 responses to “You Can Taste The Fear In Barbados – Travel Poised to “drop off a cliff” in January

  1. BA88/98

    You have frightened me half to death but the more I think about it the more your advice makes sense. Thank you.

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    A couple of English guests that are staying with us at the moment are doing a Caribbean tour and over the last 4 weeks they have stayed on Tobago, Grenada, Carriacou, St,. Lucia and now Barbados.

    Every one of the hotels (except us) they have stayed at, did not have an occupancy level of more than 10 – 25% and a large (brand name) one they stayed in on St. Lucia was 10% or less.

    Government MUST lower the departure tax/add-ons and bring pressure to bear on LIAT to reduce (or eliminate) the fuel surcharge of US$23.75 per sector flown.

    LIAT have only made one token surcharge reduction of US$2.50 since fuel costs have dropped 70%.

    They may well win the award for being the world’s last airline to remove or substantially reduce fuel surcharges.

    THE GOB is one, if not the single largest shareholder in LIAT. They must apply pressure
    to protect the entire tourism sector.

    I promise you it will be a cheaper option than paying millions of Dollars out in unemployment benefit.

  3. hotel worker

    bad is bad is bad. nobody come. 36 rooms 5 peoples this week

  4. Now would be an excellent time for people to invest in putting more business processes online, reducing overheads by employing technology and doing away with the ‘incompetence is not a fireable offense’ rule that is rampant in the Caribbean.

    On a day to day basis I fight an enormous amount of ignorance and fear of technology, and the Digital Divide simply appears to close on the most superficial level. It’s not enough to say you have a web site, you need to actually have a useful web site, with content enough to draw and hold an audience, and one that makes processes an individual ordinarily must drive into town, queue up and submit a paper form something electronic.

    We need a banking system that allows currencies to move in and out of Barbados so small manufacturers, government organisations and offices and other service providers can really compete in a global market and reap rewards by using real-time online transactions to drive revenue generation forward. The only way we are going to survive is by using available technology to streamline our efforts… but I’ve been preaching this for ten or more years… no one’s really listened to me yet.

    Fear of this technology is holding us back in an increasingly desperate climate. We do not have the time to faff on this, we must act and act decisively. We must choose education and implement best practises in online development, or we will perish economically.

  5. This is bad, and thing is, most of it is not far from the mark – I like how you realise networking among family/friends as in general Society; I would just add SunGoddess’ bit about making an online entity as a breadwinner…

    But assuming what you say is true, how on God’s Green Earth could ANY regime allow Graeme Hall to shut down? Today is the last day! A main artery of not only Barbados ecologically, but economically, as in Tourism – choopse!

  6. Hants

    For years Barbados ignored the true potential of the canadian market.

    Now they are blitzing Canadian TV with ads.

    There is still a problem with print ads in the Canadian Newspapers.
    They are showing a Barbados hotel at $2400 for 7 days while st.Lucia is $2100 and the other destinations on the same ad are as low as $1000.

    The lower priced hotels should advertise in Canadian newspapers.Maybe the BTA can help

    I am not an expert so maybe I am missing something.

    The good news is that West Jet and Air Canada appear to be close to fully booked from now till after Christmas.

    Good topic BFP.

  7. Sandals lays off workers

    KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 15, 2008 – The region’s largest hotel chain, Sandals Resorts International, is laying off 650 employees because of a decline in tourist bookings.

    In the announcement of job cuts by yet another major tourism resort in the Caribbean, the company said that it would have to send home 285 workers from Jamaica, 200 in St Lucia and 150 in the Bahamas.

    “We sincerely regret having to take the decision to reduce our staff complement throughout the Caribbean at this time,” it said in a release, noting that it had delayed the move for as long as it could.

  8. Delinquent Barbadian taxpayers get break

    BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 15, 2008 – The Barbados government is offering an ease to delinquent taxpayers who owe money to the VAT department, with a move to waive 50 per cent of all interest and penalty fees for another year.

    According to an official of the VAT Office, the Prime Minister took this decision “in light of the current economic situation and the difficulties some businesses might be experiencing”.

  9. me

    Sungoddess, you do need to be careful. You speak truth, but… you do so in a “colonised” fashion.

    Nepotism, incompetence and laxity are certainly problems here in the Caribbean; but you do no-one any favours by confirming the racist stereotypes held by many.

    The problems you cite are human problems, found everywhere. The difference in the Caribbean is:
    (1) Degree, admittedly. It’s worse here than it is in the wealthiest, most successful regions of the world.
    (2) It’s more visible. American nepotism is much more subtle than Caribbean nepotism; but it’s big over there, don’t fool yourself.
    (3) Vulnerability. As poor nations, we are more vulnerable to the effects of incompetence.

    I’d just ask- no, BEG you to refrain from acting as if the Caribbean had some sort of monopoly on problems that are essentially global. I saw no shortage of incompetence in England, or the US. My understanding is that we’re no worse (in any overall sense) than Eastern Europe.

    So point out our flaws, but let go of the subservient attitude that we’re worse than everyone else. We’re not.

    We have to get our house in order; but it’s a good house.

  10. I just thought those C’bean 360 items had a bearing on what was being said… Food 4 thought?

  11. Question for Adrian

    @ Adrian

    What else, in your opinion, should government be doing to spur increased tourism arrivals (from anywhere) besides your suggestion of the removal/reduction of departure tax/add-ons and fuel surcharges?

    I ask this because it does NOT appear to me that the government is actually doing anything much at all! Plenty talk. Not a lot of action.

    I hope this isn’t a situation where we wait and see only to discover that we really should have spent a little more time, effort and money to bring tourists to Barbados.

    Why do i get the feeling there’s nothing left to do now but count the empty rooms and unemployed people? How seriously is this really being taken?

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    Question for Adrian,

    Perhaps it seems that way, but there are lots of things going on in the background which are not that obvious.
    A record $90 million has been allocated to the BTA and I know that many of us are trying to ensure that money is spent in the most productive way.

    There will have to be a change in the way we do business, at least a substantial proportion of it.

    And perhaps for too long we have ignored the opinions of people that have proven they can get the job done in favour of persons who just talk pretty.

  13. aswl

    Hants, and others – the last 10 years has been easy money all over the world equating to easy tourism for Barbados. Now that money is gone from the top to the bottom of European and US society. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. The value of businesses, funds/stocks and property have collapsed and are still collapsing. The truth is that the last few years were abnormal and we will eventually return to something that is more sustainable.

    The US and UK least are looking at Japan-style mega recessions for years to come (but at least the Japanese had a lot of savings when theirs started at the beginning of the 90’s). And China, on the verge of a different kind of collapse, has begun a quiet trade war with the US. What happens when they won’t (or can’t) prop up America anymore. Our dollar, and fate is tied to the US directly and indirectly (the UK economy is a bad photocopy of the US’s). On the past year’s results the pessimists have left the optimists standing – and have been scarily correct.

    Barbados has to prepare for life when tourism is ‘only’ one of our industries and not ‘the’ industry. Offshore banking is a by-product. We have to grow and manufacture. At the least our local industries have to bring us closer to self-sufficiency. The variety (and cost) of imported goods on our supermarket shelves is also abnormal.

    I am not an economist. I speak primarily from first hand experience with people ‘in the eye of the storm’ here in the UK. Things are going to be very very different. Are we just going to react or are we going to be prepared .

  14. wondering

    Ian Bourne
    December 15, 2008 at 5:41 pm
    Delinquent Barbadian taxpayers get break

    BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, December 15, 2008 – The Barbados government is offering an ease to delinquent taxpayers who owe money to the VAT department, with a move to waive 50 per cent of all interest and penalty fees for another year.

    According to an official of the VAT Office, the Prime Minister took this decision “in light of the current economic situation and the difficulties some businesses might be experiencing”.

    This is not right. Vat is a consumption tax that is collected on behalf of the goverment. It has nothing (directly)to do with the running of a business.
    What would be better is for the PM to step in and save a honestly run business from a delinquent VAT office. Too many stories of refunds pending for a long time.
    We are very inefficient . e.g In the budget in July, changes were made for retailers who have the “draw back” duty free status ( pay duty upfront and collect back from the Customs if the sale is duty free) to be duty free with bond (no duty pay upfront)etc. 1/2 year later it has not been implemented. Could you imagine the cash flow situation on this .These times demands swift action not governmental inertia.
    Lastly, Jamaica just had a stimulus budget, what are we doing ?

  15. Hants

    @ aswl

    I have been on this blog for the last few months trying to get a discussion going on the worldwide recession.
    Here in Canada the government has been feeding us the bad news slowly but next year could be very bad.

    The BTA is doing a good job in the USA and in Canada with daily prime time TV ads and promotions in Western Canada.

  16. J. Payne

    But wait nuh. Air Canada is fighting back.

    http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-12882–34-34–.html

    Barbados welcomes in WestJet so Air Canada has announced that they would start flights between the province of Quebec and Martinique. Now that’s playing dirty. If there’s one thing Quebeckers love it is their French culture.

    It is true that Barbados can’t depend on some hope of Obama never getting around to enacting a part of his campaign promise. Despite whether Obama’s AG is a Bajan or not. Colin Powell had ties to Jamaica under Bush and just look how frosty tied between Bush and Owen became. The fact of the matter is they are accountable to their political base.

  17. Hants

    @ J. Payne

    “But wait nuh. Air Canada is fighting back.”

    Air Canada fares to Barbados are now level with West Jet.

    The BTA should keep their eyes on the weather and and target markets where it is cold and whenever and wherever snow storms hit.

    My Canadian friends start looking to run when it gets to -10 and 6 inches of snow.

  18. Tourism Monkey

    As a Jamaican acquaintance said to me the other day, now we’ll see how strong this “economy” is.

    It was only a matter of time. I always thought that it might have been a hurricane that would do it but lo and behold, it is the economy.

    Outside of tourism, Barbados has only had one thing going for it; continuity/consistency.

    Think of it…
    * no major hurricanes since 1955 – made it pretty easy to sell the island in the summer season.

    * democratic government with political stability – no civil strife or warfare within recent time.

    * investment – we have built a relatively stable foundation on which offshore financial institutions love to operate.

    * meekness – face it, we’re a society of pansies compared to some of our Caribbean neighbours in relation to crime statistics and types of crimes.

    Now, all of this continuity will come to an end. The only one of those points above that will not be affected by the economy is the hurricanes…

    Prepare for a bumpy ride.

  19. PiedPiper

    Adrian, I have a question for you. What is the basic profit margin that hoteliers expect? I don’t necessarily mean your profit margin at Peach and Quiet but in general. If Bajan businesses that are dependant on tourism want to survive during this worldwide economic turndown, they need to rethink the whole issue of profit. Is it better to lower your expectations in terms of your profit in order to just hang on and not lose your business to foreclosure? As long as your overheads are covered and you can meet your 60 day bills you can remain viable until the economy levels out.
    Business owners from hoteliers, restaurants, water sports attractions and shop keepers need to temporarily lower their expectationss and rethink how they will ride out the economic crisis. Sink or swim, as they say.

  20. Excellent article BFP.
    Unfortunately, it is very much on the conservative side.
    We are about to enter a time of unprecedented chaos.
    It is not only the economy, but global warming and the weather, the oil challenges, the water dilemma, food prices, and growing tension in many hotspots around the world.

    THIS is the perfect storm, and it will become very bad, very quickly.

  21. crossroads

    A couple of months ago there was an article which said the Atlantis hotel in the Bahammas was laying off 800 persons, meanwhile our gov continued to release statements saying the winter season for Barbados was holding its own. A bit confusing I would say. The tihs will soon hit the fan.

  22. 199

    The crisis could help with Barbadians’ manners-lessons!! It does n’t seem that anything else, will!!

  23. Sundowner

    Most of Westjets full flights around Christmas is bringing students back for the holidays, not a lot of tourists on these flights.

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  25. Eye95

    BFP says:

    “The Government of Barbados has been sending a mixed message lately to the populace, and in fairness I tell you that whether the DLP or the BLP were in power, that conflicted message would be the same.”
    ———————————————–
    Did you read Prime Minister Arthur’s financial policy statements for 2007? Read it and then read the junk that the persons who are advising Thompson – submitted to him.

    All of what they are recommending is what Arthur said should be done in 2007. See what is now being said about International Business and what Arthur said in 2007.

    All Cox, Worrell and the other guy are doing is hinting to Thompson that he should embrace good BLP policies as outlined in Arthur’s policy statements.

  26. GT

    Bajans sent home at Crane Beach Hotel.
    Guyanese and Chinese still working. Bajans not given any lunch time but Guyanese and Chinese are given lunch time.
    Should our brothers and sisters be treated like this? Ever so welcome, wait for a call…

  27. Juris

    GT, I don’t know what you are trying to incite, but what is the position of the BWU on this? Did the workers complain to anyone? Did any of them leave and claim constructive dismissal for not getting lunch time? Does the Crane select the Bajans especially for no lunch time? Why would they do this on the basis of nationality?

  28. Uhh…

    Dear ‘me’,

    I see nowhere in my post any comment that would suggest:

    1) I speak in a ‘colonised fashion’.
    2) That I think these problems are unique to Barbados or even the Caribbean.
    3) There is even an hint of lending support for racist views of Barbados and the Caribbean.

    There is much good in the Caribbean that I, like any proud person of this region, will shout from the hills as my sensibilities are often grounded in my West Indian-ness. However, I will not pull my punches or couch my terms in language less strong, because what I see around me is FRIGHTENING.

    Instead of adaptability, I see rigidity. Instead of patience and resilience, I see flightiness and vapidity. Instead of perseverance, I see pettiness and small-mindedness and a disturbing lack of vision.

    I would say these things no matter where I was, because people are people no matter where you go. I do say though, over and above all else, that this is MY Caribbean, and I will observe and report what I see, and offer some suggestion on how we can change things.

    Saying that people are ignorant here is not racist. They are flicking ignorant, and they are willfully so. Not everyone of course, but yeah… ‘density ratio’ is a good phrase to insert here.

    Saying that the banking system needs to revamped in Barbados to allow modern commerce to flourish, is not acting as though what we have now isn’t vastly inferior to other countries even within the Caribbean. It’s the truth. Our banking system and the insane foreign exchange control makes it impossible for me as a service provider to sell my services in a global market place in a way that is easy to set up and doesn’t hurt me in bank fees. That’s my reality mate, not an implication of inferiority… I’m not saying America is better, or that the UK is better, but their banking system and telecommunications infrastructure FACILITATES far more than ours does. Reality… reality… not suggestions.

    Times are rough, but I see people throwing money into websites that don’t do squat… or web sites where content is treated like brochures… or do not understand the depth of managing content on the web and how it can change the way your customers interact with you. I’m like, where the hell is our Web 2.0? Why is it that preaching about the value of web presences, metaverse technology, 3G, fast cheap broadband and WANTING those things for the region is seen as ‘colonised’ in thinking, and supporting ‘racist views’? Explain it to me mate, cause I don’t see that anywhere.

    Is it more colonised than say, a church every few hundred yards and rum shop on every major corner? Dude… tell me, Big Mami needs to know.

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  30. garyblake

    OK…so tourism is toast for the next few years Barbados Free Press suggests a few measures “to personally get through what we are going to face in the coming three or four years…

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