Barbados Tourism – Can Government Do More?

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Closed - 85 Jobs Directly Gone, Many Others Impacted

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Closed - 85 Jobs Directly Gone, Many Other Jobs Indirectly Impacted By The Closure Of This Major Tourist Attraction

Yet again, it’s the hotels and to a lesser extent the ancillary tourism services that are being asked to discount their rates either directly or through another form of discounting, often to referred to as ‘added value’, while at the same time maintain employment.

But free room nights, free breakfast, half price this and half price that, all have their cost.

Yes!  We all understand the devastating effect lower long stay visitor arrivals and occupancy will have on employment and business viability.

But unlike the merchants who simply pass on increased costs, the hotels contract rates that are often fixed for many months, if not years, in advance.

The Government has recognised the important of stepping up marketing and promotional activity in these troubling times, but is there more they can do?

I believe they can, and must do if we are not going to see further hotel closures next summer.

Grantley Adams Airport now has the highest departure and other taxes in the region. I realise that the airport is now operated by a company. But it is a wholly owned Government company.

Secondly, the Government of Barbados is one of, if not the single largest shareholder in LIAT (1974) Ltd.
Despite the fall of around in 70% in fuel costs, LIAT has made only one token fuel surcharge cut of US$2.50 per sector flown.

There is still a massive US$23.75 fuel and insurance surcharge on each segment flown.

Yet airlines and cruise ship operators around the world have significantly lowered or eliminated fuel surcharges altogether.

Again, while the medium to long goal is to reduce LIAT’s dependency on the Caribbean taxpayer, it should not be at the cost of our tourism industry.
After, all those taxpayer’s hand-outs have been largely generated by this sector.

The Caribbean is currently our (Barbados) third most important source market for long stay arrivals and perhaps one that will be more resilient than others.

So if unreasonably high departure taxes and fuel surcharges are a deterrent to people travelling within the region, especially in the softer summer months, Government will not collect tax or VAT on accommodation, dining experiences, car rental, attractions and activities etc.
Lower employment in the industry will also add to depleted tax and national insurance revenue collection.

Adrian Loveridge
15th December 2008


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

28 responses to “Barbados Tourism – Can Government Do More?

  1. civil service

    Barbados is run by civil servants who protect each others butts and accept salaries for producing nothing other than attitude and blockages.

    Perhaps the elected representatives should resign and hand the keys over to the civil service?


    For starters quit moaning. And do something.

    Think you’re badly off in Barbados?

    Watch the news about the millions of British and Americans who are facing the sack, having their cars repossessed, with shares worth nothing and houses worth less than their mortgages.

    They aren’t remotely thinking about coming to Barbados even if you give free room and board, cancel airport charges and provide unlimited free sunblock.

    So what to do?

    What Obama is proposing to get America out of the mire. Take this opportunity to IMPROVE Barbados. With public funds.

    Fix the frickin’ roads. Plant trees. Buy sand from Antigua to replace the lost beaches. Open more access to beaches. Stop building condos on beaches. Make the seafront attractive again.

    In short print “Make Barbados Attractive Again” on T-shirts and mean it.

    “Build it and they will come.”

    Not immediately but we’ll be ready for them when they can afford to buy their own sunblock again.


    Well said KoolBarbados, with or without the recession there are tourists who are not coming back because of what you have mentioned, I’m tired of trying to ‘sell’ Barbados to West Coast visitors who moan they can’t see the sea, can’t park near it, can’t find a route to a beach etc etc. Barbados is destroying what people have been coming here to experience. Garbage everywhere, Bridgetown backstreets are still covered in litter and stinking.
    Once people find a cheaper alternative that can offer what people used to come here for, they will not come, we’ve outpriced ourselves.
    The Caribbean is not the only area in the world with sun and palm trees, we got some serious work to do.

  4. hotel worker

    many tears at work today. most down to 5 half days


    @ hotel worker

    Sadly a story repeated worldwide. My sympathy to you and your fellow-workers.

    But what can tiny Barbados do in the world hurricane?

    Stop concentrating on the “sticky-plaster” solutions as some are suggesting. Not one additional tourist will come to Barbados even if departure/add-on taxes are reduced. And 99.99% of tourists have never heard of LIAT, never mind LIAT’s fuel cost problems.

    Dear Barbadians, haven’t you yet understood some of the biggest companies in the world can’t sell their product(s)? Not even when they slash prices.

    Get it into your heads lots of people have no money and are deep in debt. Repeat NO MONEY.

    And spending more on advertising doesn’t help if your target audience can’t pay credit card bills.

    There is a worldwide RECESSION. Which calls for thinking “outside the bun.”

    I repeat – the entire Barbados marketing, advertising and selling community must come straight out, admit we’re in a RECESSION too and reposition the island as making a major investment to recover what made us so attractive in the first place.

    Start an advertising campaign showing us “beautifying” the island. Making it a delight to visit.

    Go so far as to say, “These are hard times, we understand that, but when the hard economic times pass – as they will – you’ll find a totally renovated Barbados waiting to receive you with broad beaches and open arms.”

    “Build it and they will come.”

  6. Peltdownman

    I think that we have to be careful, because government is boxed in financially. Unlike the U.S., which can print the money it needs, for Barbados to undergo any serious public spending to mitigate against the recession, it will have to borrow the funds, which could raise its debt against revenue to a dangerously high level. Similarly, and stimulous package, especially one that is based on construction, will have an adverse effect on the Balance of Payments, with very little foreign exchange coming in from direct investment and/or tourism. It’s a fine balancing act, and can be greatly assisted by taking action outside the government spending option, but which could be “encouraged” by government by means of various “sticks” and “carrots”. One that immediatedly comes to mind is the ownership of land that remains in bush. Land tax penalties should be imposed on landowners, particularly large landowners, who refuse to at least make their land look attractive, even if they don’t have the skill or willingness to put it back into production. Travelling from Edgehill to Hillaby, as many visitors do on their way to Harrisons Cave and the East Coast, you are greeted with the disgraceful landscape of bush as far as the eye can see, as Vaucluse and Dukes have been taken out of production. And Vaucluse was formerly one of the most productive estates in a high rainfall area. Clean it, or pay 50% more land tax – that would be my plan. Adrian’s point on LIAT and excessive airport fees is well taken, and reducing these charges could have a positive effect on intra-Caribbean tourism. I fear, however, that the last 30 years has engendered a mendicant attitude in the country, in that everyone will be looking to government to help them out, rather than helping themselves. Such action should be reserved for those persons who really need it, as I state again, government does not have unlimited funds at its disposal.

  7. The Scout

    We must learn to feed on ourselves, encourage bajans when they go on Holiday to remain at home and enjoy some bajan hotel hospitality. I also expect the hotel worker to traet them just as they would treat a foreign tourist or better.Remember charity begins at home. To the hotel owner, it is better to have locals in your hotel even if you make little or no profit, than to have the hotel closed and your staff unemplyed. We have to ride out this period together.

  8. The Scout

    Some international airlines are now offering special rates anywhere the airlines service. this is the way it is done, let say I want to go on holiday, I pack my luggage,go to the airport and register on standby for a chosen destination or two whichever is available first. When the flight is about to depart and there are any vacant seats you are then called and negotiate a price with the attendent. The person/s offering the best price gets the seat/s. The idea is that it is better to fly an extra passenger at a reduced fare than have an empty seat. The hoteliers can do the same thing here, when there is low occupancy, offer very attractive local prices or even negotiate with lets say a company who pathronise your hotel to offer special week-end or vacation rates to their staff.

  9. Eye95

    Why panic?

    The DLP said that it is “Better for Barbados,” and has all of the answers.

    The DLP now has a golden opportunity to restructure and reposition the Barbados economy based on our national strategic objectives, if only it knows waht the priorities should be.

    The former Government left $2.6 billion in foreign reserves and an unemployment rate of 7.6 per cent.

    That is a fundamental difference from what obtained in 1994 when the DLP left a puny $13 million in foreign reserves and a 26.0 per cent unemployment rate.

    That Barbados is today not in the hip pocket of the IMF – means that the former BLP Government deserves very high marks.

    Still, I maintain that: “The DLP does not know what it is doing!”

  10. Scout, your points are very sound.

    I’ve been reliably told that the BHTA is about to launch a ‘staycations’ promotion to do exactly that in January 2009.

    I’ve also take the liberty to start a group on facebook called Baje Vacations ( encouraging locals to vacation at home and you are all welcome to join.

    I also hope that more local tourism goods and service providers will utilize it to promote their specials for locals.

    I have long believed that our tourism marketing team needs a focused domestic tourism marketing arm, and not just in times like these but all the time.

    I’m not sure if that is what the government means by community tourism but whatever the case we need to stop the foreign exchange hemorrhage by getting Bajans to vacation at home rather than overseas if possible, at least until this situation has abated some what.

  11. Adrian Loveridge

    Lyrical Lava,

    Not sure where you have been for the last six years.

    We (Barbados) have actually had a relatively successful DOMESTIC tourism initiative called re-DISCOVER ( launched after 911.

    In three months following 911, 1,592 Barbadians dined at one restaurant alone, now sadly closed, Carambola.

    Each year (April 2009 next show) we organise a re-DISCOVER show that includes both domestic and pan Caribbean participation.

    YES! a lot more could be done with additional funds and I think that will be achieved early next year.

    Generated funds from the budget requested from the BTA for re-DISCOVER in 2009 will produce a 16:1 ROI (return on investment).

    Compare that with the Best of Barbados initiative!

  12. I am aware of the re-Discover the Caribbean initiative and I tip my hat off to you for a great and vital initiative.

    However I was speaking specifically to the tourism marketing arm of the tourism ministry.

    The structure as it stands is largely externally focused and does not include a dedicated domestic tourism marketing function that targets locals or even to visitors already on the island for that matter.

    As you said, and I fully agree, there is more that we can do.

  13. Hants

    Like it or not there will be a price war in Tourism.

    I saw a man on TV in Canada who had a vacation booked at a resort in Vegas for $1300.

    He call and complained and they dropped it to $700.

    Prehaps the hotels in Barbados should call people who cancelled and offer them a 50% discount just in case…..

    What we all have to do is think how we can help Barbados in these difficult times.

  14. Tourism Monkey

    We must learn to feed on ourselves, encourage bajans when they go on Holiday to remain at home and enjoy some bajan hotel hospitality. I also expect the hotel worker to traet them just as they would treat a foreign tourist or better.Remember charity begins at home. To the hotel owner, it is better to have locals in your hotel even if you make little or no profit, than to have the hotel closed and your staff unemplyed. We have to ride out this period together.
    I understand what you are saying but let’s be realistic. It’s going to be a recession. People will barely have money to pay their bills and maintain their standard of living. I don’t care how attractive the specials look, I wouldn’t be checking into a hotel for a weekend.

    True, some people will but the vast majority will probably be unable to afford this “luxury”.

    I’m sure Mr. Loveridge could tell you, at the height of the Re-Discover program, when Bajans had money there would still have been some trepidation.

    Also, there is the perception that many have of the sector.

    “Whuh I gon go dey fuh? Fuh dem people to treat me like a second class citizen?”

    Yeah, customer service SHOULD improve but will it?

  15. Adrian Loveridge

    Tourism Monkey,

    Sadly, I largely agree with you.

    The ‘us and them’ scenario has to change if we are ever going to be worldclass.

    As Managers, we should also take some blame, you cannot expect a level of service from staff that have not been exposed to it.

    As much as I may agree with you, it should not stop us trying!

  16. The Scout

    I’m not a prophet of doom and gloom, yes, things are going to be tight but bajans are still going to find time to go to entertainment shows in Barbados, i.e Jazz , reggae and calypso festivals as well as crop-over, therefore with proper marketing hotels can target locals to vacation at home. I’ve already given you one stratergy to use in my posting at 1.29p.m. Maybe a hotel who wants to accept the offer can pay me on commission to sell the concept for them. I would gladly accept mainly to show you how beneficial it can and would be. One wouldn’t need a degree in tourism to know how to get people in your hotel and enjoy themselves and tell others about it. I’ve holidayed in Barbados more than once in hotels and LOVED it. There was a little attitude problem once but I got that rectified within one hour of my being there. In fact, it was an all inclusive and I think they broke a few of the rules for me.

  17. Eye95

    Here is what should calm the fears of Barbadians.

    In just eleven short months – despite saying that the national debt was too high, the DLP has added an additional one billion and seventy-million to the national debt.

    The DLP used its majority in parliament and change the law, just so it could borrow that amount. Heaven help us.!

  18. Eye95

    Lyrical Lava says,

    “Scout, your points are very sound.

    I’ve been reliably told that the BHTA is about to launch a ’staycations’ promotion to do exactly that in January 2009.”

    With 3000 persons in the construction sector alone loosing their jobs early next year, people will be wondering if they will be able to pay the rent or mortgage.

    What saycation?

    People will be lucky if they have ajob or can buy food and pay their bills.

    If people cannot meet basic needs’ food:; clothes and shelter, how then can their attend to luxary – unless theose persons have access to funds through illegal means.

    Herein lies the problem for tourism: crime!

    The government and law abiding Barbadians should be worries.

    By the way, are you all not concerned that the Minister of Tourism is painting a far different picture from the Governor of the Central Bank who is times more intelligent?

  19. James

    I’m a Bajan living overseas… I get homesick, but on my occasional visits “home” it no longer resembles anything I remember – and it has changed for the worse.

    Like the so-called “developed” countries, the foreign rich (and local greedy) people have taken over the things that birth-rightfully belong to us all – as Bajans – and sold it off lock, stock and barrel to those same rich foreigners who suck every ounce of pleasure and resources out of their own people at home.

    Where I live there is a large lake, but the locals can’t see it – it’s walled in by towering condos and executive high-rises owned and occupied by the aging Yuppies, the ME-Generation, the X-Generation, the Y-Generation, and now the ME-FIRST generation. The locals can’t use the beaches because they are in most part fouled by the garbage, litter and feces drifting over from the moorings and harbours where the rich keep their yachts and expensive pleasure craft – here, the government lets us know when the e-coli and bacteria levels are low enough that we won’t get too sick when we take a swim.

    Barbados has always had a policy that beaches cannot be fenced off – all Bajans have a right to access via public right-of-ways. I think Bajans also have a right to VIEWS of the beaches, too, and that erection of buildings higher than two stories within 1/4 mile of any beach should be banned – and if I had my way, any existing structures be pulled down as purely evil decisions by the architects and owners.

    And I think that foreign ownership of land and property should be restricted to Bajans only – otherwise we will be priced out of our own country, and our future generations will be second class citizens in their own country.

    Past greedy, selfish and useless politicians – as usual – have sold us out over the years. There has not been one single real statesman rise out of the acres of common yard fowls we have seen in the past 40 years – in the entire Caribbean, not just Barbados – and that could be because they have made the career of politician such a ridiculous joke that nobody with any stature or independence wants to get himself/herself sullied with political mud, garbage and feces just by being elected.

    We get what we deserve in politics, don’t we? Well, for long enough they have sold our Paradise to the foreign Devils, and I suppose – like me – we must all leave our island now and find our own ways in the cold and heartless rat races those rich people left behind so they could live in our warmth and civilised backwardness.

    Or must we?

  20. GT

    Many Bajans have been sent home at Crane Hotel .
    Guyanese are still working without permits at the same location.
    What should Bajans do? What should unions do? What should ex-workers do?
    Time 4 action is now…

  21. Tourism Monkey

    As Managers, we should also take some blame, you cannot expect a level of service from staff that have not been exposed to it.
    Sadly, some of them have but when the majority of your people have bad habits it spreads.

    I too am a manager in the industry and I can’t tell you how many promising individuals that I have tried to mentor have gone astray because it is cool and fashionable to lime pun de block and smoke weed instead of working hard towards goals.

    The same applies for bad habits. As someone in the industry, you know. One person has a shortcut that is not the right hospitality standard but it saves them time. Others see this and at first correct them but then realise, they might be right and start to do it too.

    Next thing you know, low standards are born.

  22. Straight talk

    And you call yourself a manager of staff?

    Is this the problem we face?

  23. yatinkiteasy

    Keep knocking down every Bajan Chattel House and see what`s left for tourists to see, enjoy and photograph… show their friends and family..why does the Government keep knocking down Bajan Heritage and Culture?

  24. Happy To Say

    I must admit that I did not read all the post regarding this post; however, I do think that the BTA should come up with creative ways of marketing the Barbados product.

    Within the last two weeks our competitors have had their hands full and we should (subtly?) try to cash in on their misfortune. Competitors who have had a rough time (a) India (Mumbai), (b) Thailand and (c) Greece.

    We need to whisper a word in the ear of the UK travel agents that BDS offers a peaceful alternative to these “hot spots”.

    Secondly we should entice potential visitors to our shores by pointing out that they have a unique chance to visit paradise (BDS) while not sharing the beaches with a throng of other visitors.

    I must admit that the suggested themes may be seen by some as bucking the current trend, however, this is survival time and we should not leave any stone unturned.

  25. J. Payne

    Regarding tourism last year I had a suggestion which I thought was a very easy inexpensive idea for the BTA that I never could get through to the proper channels. I askked the BTA to look at creating some wall calendars with pictures of Barbados on it. I suggested they could even look at placing a heavy emphasis on beach images and scenes when you come to the months of December, January, and February.

    Reason being- my office every year just like millions of other offices go out to order several huge very generic bulk calendars that they hang up in places like break rooms or other public spaces. I thought this could be an effective and captive audience, and if I was in the break-room at the same time it could even been an easy way to percolate some interest in co-workers vacationing to Barbados.

    The staff I spoke to at the BTA said it didn’t sound like it would be effective. I mean heck in this economy some quick-stop print companies will easily pass on huge savings to get a bulk print job contract. To make it even cheaper the BTA could even hire a couple of temps for a couple weeks get a couple hundred spined folding machines and have them snap together calendars in-house at their offices and allow people to call for them every December.
    The trade off? The BTA gets a huge hanging promotion that functions as a calendar pinned up in offices across the frosty north…. Plus if the BTA puts their contact information / BTA phone number right on the bottom of the calendar for people that become curious of travelling to Barbados then why not. Also some places might even call the number every year to re-order a new calendar. I thought it was one avenue they could have gotten cleaver with they could have had a competition or two for Bajan students to design or enter some of their art work to be considered for the calendar. The thing is the BTA can’t reach everyone by TV. Some people never even have time to sit down and watch prime time TV these days but they just may recall a well designed wall calendar (Barbados promotion tool) in their break rooms at work.

  26. Adrian Loveridge

    J. Payne,

    I think its a good idea.

    My only comments would be that the BTA partners with our tourism partners and companies like Mount Gay and that each month page is sponsored by one of them to spread the costs.

    We (even as a small hotel) would also be happy to purchase a supply of calenders that we could give to our guests.

  27. Eye95

    The utter confusion in the mind of Prime Minister Thompson, as regards what constitutes a sensible Economic Stimulus Package, is getting worst.

    Our Barbadian Nehru’s idea of a Stimulus Package has move from his announcement that it will entail purchasing equipment for the QEH and erecting fences around schools, to him now saying that he has injected $10 million into the tourism budget; is in the process of restructuring the BTA, and started constructing 700 houses – even though he promised in his manifesto, to build 2000 every year.

    If Barbados’ Economic survival depends on David Thompson and the DLP of 8% salary cut and massive layoffs fame – then Barbados is in deep doo doo.

    Three thousand will loose their jobs in the construction sector by March 2009, despite how ever many projects manage to past Town Planning now.

    This is the reality when you have a Political Party forming the Government, which does not know what it is doing, and one, which is therefore governing by delay.

    The projection for tourism is no brighter. Airline will require more than just talk from a Prime Minister, who they have no confidence in.

    But Thompson blames a global crisis. Did the global crisis purchased his half million Mercedes for him?

    Will it pay each child who attends DLP Christmas camps $10 pe day and DLP operatives $500 for the two weeks?

    Was it the global crisis that is borrowing one billion and seventy million or Thompson?

    Is it the golobal crisis that will give each constituency council a million dollars next year to lick-out?

    Stop blaming a global crisis! Get on with the people’s business and assign the Police and the Defence Force to guard the Treasury from Adul Blagojevick, Hartley Madoff and Leroy Incitatus.

  28. Optimist Prime

    Where is the Tourism Master Plan, which is mentioned on page 31 of the BLP Manifesto – that Richard Sealy said in February – that he is going to implement soon. It is now ten months after!!!!

    With a Global Financial Crisis, which is only an “obstacle” for Barbados – you would think that now is a good time for tourism stakeholders to be having “improtant discussions on the sector.

    Again, “leadership” is absent. That is why Barbadians are fearful that what is only an obstacles – is fast becoming a crisis for the Barbados economy.