Panama’s Tourism Arrivals Doubled In Five Years, Solomon Islands Up 8% Over Last Year – What About Barbados?

Fired BTA Member asked inconvenient questiions

Fired BTA Member asked inconvenient questiions

A few days ago our resident hotel owner, tourism guru and recently-fired Barbados Tourism Authority member Adrian Loveridge said I hope we have a plan and pointed out that visitor arrivals from the USA to Barbados have been flat for the last seven years.

He also asked about the wisdom of continuing to spend gobs of money on a market that isn’t responding. To Adrian, these flat American arrival statistics over a seven year period indicate that some changes should be made in the way Barbados is approaching the US market, and/or in the portion of our tourism budget allocated to that market.

Adrian seems to be concerned that Barbados should monitor spending AND results so we can properly access whether our efforts are producing an acceptable return on investment.

Ha… Foolish man. (said with tongue planted firmly in cheek) 🙂

No wonder the Government of Barbados fired Adrian from the BTA. He always seems to spoil the “everything will be fine” party by asking simple questions and making reasonable observations. Can’t have people doing audits that lead to accountability ’bout hey, doan ya know!

And don’t be asking for any planning either…

Grand Schemes, Not Professional Planning

Tourism Minister Sealy

Tourism Minister Sealy

Barbados politicians are most happy when they announce grand tourism schemes that have nothing to do with reality. Whether it is Tourism-Minister-turned-millionaire Noel Lynch and his imaginary 700 yachts during Cricket World Cup, Prime Minister Owen Arthur announcing that Barbados would see tens of thousands of Indian, Chinese and “stem cell” tourists – or current Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy proclaiming that Barbados will become a medical-tourism destination – our politicians (and our tourism industry) seem to flit from one scheme to another like hummingbirds to flowers.

Meanwhile, the government ignores the basics and fires anyone (like Adrian) who doesn’t want to “move forward” with the latest greatest idea that struck the Tourism Minister as he sat on the toilet. (So help me, I think I’ll just scream the next time I hear another politician say “Move forward” as if uttering that hackneyed phrase is showing actual leadership.)

Anyway, to move forward with this article…

I had Adrian’s latest column in my mind when I came across a few pieces at ETN Global Travel Industry News and learned that Panama has doubled tourism arrivals in the past five years. Ok… I’m interested in how they did it. While Panamanian efforts and strategies may not translate into success in our market, I say that any government capable of doubling arrivals in five years probably has something to teach us.

The same with the Solomon Islands who are up 8% over last year – and this in the middle of a continued financial meltdown.

So have a read of the articles linked below and see what you can glean.

As for me, I suspect that tourism “success” for Barbados has less to do with announcing great schemes than with keeping our island beautiful, safe and friendly. No matter what spin and schemes our advertisers put on Barbados tourism, if our product (our country) doesn’t please visitors and fulfill their expectations more than it has been – this place is going to be in rough shape in a few years.

ETN: Soloman Islands welcomes increase in tourists

ETN: Tourism in Panama is Booming

Latin Business Chronicle: The Truth About Panama’s Tourism

38 Comments

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

38 responses to “Panama’s Tourism Arrivals Doubled In Five Years, Solomon Islands Up 8% Over Last Year – What About Barbados?

  1. Hants

    You guys are talking about Tourism as if it is an exact science.

    Travel agencies “wheel and deal” with countries, hotels and airlines.

    Some governments subsidise the Tourist Industry with huge injections of cash. Barbados has pocket change to spend. Just hope and pray for the recession to end soon.

    In Canada, Provinces like Ontario spend a lot of money on promoting Tourism because,

    300,000 people in Ontario are directly or indirectly employed by the tourism industry.
    In 2007, total tourism receipts in Ontario totalled more than $22 billion.

  2. BFP

    We know it’s not a science, Hants.

    But as Auntie Moses says “No Plan? Plan to fail!”

  3. systemic rot

    these people don’t care

    its not their money and there is zero accountability
    in relation to results

    the culture continues and the political hacks get their expense accounts, pay cheques and whatever they can “tief”.

    Meanwhile the rest of the citizens become poorer.

  4. Hants

    BFP the BTA has been working very hard in North America.

    When the recession ends, their efforts will produce results.

  5. Hants

    With respect to Adrian Loveridge “I hope we have a plan” , I have confidence in the professionals in the Ministry of Tourism and the BTA.

    What I don’t have confidence in ,is an economic recovery in North America for the next couple years.

    I don’t work in the tourism industry so my comments don’t carry much weight but I do know that travel is not an option for people who have lost their jobs.

  6. Gale Force

    Adrian Loveridge was FIRED from the Barbados Tourism Authority?

    I didn’t know.

    I’m so HAPPY to hear that!

    This calls for MASSIVE CELEBRATIONS.

    HOOOOORAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

  7. Analyzer

    In the paper the other day, they say they have a plan but they might have to step on some toes, I wonder what that means?

  8. neverland

    They said they were firing people, but they didn’t say they had a plan. And don’t forget, Loveridge was recently fired and he says he “hopes” they have a plan. That means there wasn’t a plan visible to him at the time he left.

    Monkeys + Shotguns + Unlimited Spending = BTA

  9. neverland

    You can work hard, or you can work smart.

    BTA hasn’t proven they can do either.

  10. Darian

    Of course tourism is not an exact science. If you took a poll about how much each person paid for a plane ticket on a given flight you will soon learn that they paid various prices.

    Anyways, we still in a recession and people will travel to where they can get the most for their money. A simple fact.

  11. Richard Williams and company

    One thing that is clear to see is that this BTA, the Minister and the President and Board are not taking any nonsense from people entrusted with the well being of the taxpayers monies.

    The recent firings of a few is the direct result of the discovery of blatant abuse of Credit Cards dating back to to in excess of 12 years in this office, this recent discovery as was brought to light by the ever vilgilant President of the BTA Mr Rice, he was fully supported by his minister and his board and the decision was to terminate the relationship with Mr Williams among others with great haste.

    This is a Government elected on the promise of full accountability and to do anything other than fire those that were known to have played a part to allow this fraud to take place, it would have failed its people.

    It is enough to say that since this discovery of the abuse of the credit cards the current use of BTA issued Credit Cards has dropped by as much as $ 70,000.00 in one month, this is something that ones such as minister Lynch would have witnessed or observered during his time as minister but choose not to act because he too played the same game.

    The abuse ran far and wide, major abuse of Limo services, work awarded with no purchase orders, one company providing from cleaning services to providing computers and advertising services but it is a warning to all that honesty must prevail at any cost.

  12. neverland

    All true, I’m sure. Just as true: no one will be charged with any criminal offense. All will be done in secret.

  13. Anonymous

    The big problem in Barbados is that many leaders actually believe that ideas equate to planning.

    The hard needed to analyze ideas and to put together and implement a plan is too much for the leisure class politicians and bureaucrats.

  14. reality check

    “The abuse ran far and wide, major abuse of Limo services, work awarded with no purchase orders, one company providing from cleaning services to providing computers and advertising services but it is a warning to all that honesty must prevail at any cost.”

    All this emphasizes is that any and all strict ITAL that a
    Barbadian government will need to pass and implement must start at the top by example and also cover each and every government employee down the line.

  15. Hants

    BFP let us help the BTA with their plans since Adrian L. has not put forward any ideas in recent posts.

    Here we go.

    Reduce Airport tax and landings fees by 50% for 2 years.

    Provide real incentives for Travel agents to sell Barbados. I have done an informal survey of the GTA (Toronto) and Barbados has gone beyond their imagination. No Posters on the walls, no brochures.

    Redesign the Barbados.org website.

    Put TV ads on the major networks just like Jamaica and Sandals have done so that people remember there is a place called Barbados where the Sun is hot, the beer is cold and the champagne is chilled.

    Every Barbados overseas office including consulates and High Commissions must be mandated and given the tools to “Advertise Barbados as a Tourist destination”.
    Make thousands of car window dashboard shades
    and distribute them to people in major cities.

    over to you Adrian and BFP. help Barbados.

  16. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants,

    Where have you been?

    ‘has not put forward
    any ideas in recent posts’

    I don’t think anyone on this planet has campaigned as long and hard about reducing airport taxes as I have.
    In 1996 I put forward a workable proposal for a direct Brazil service after spending my own time and money there.
    More recently I proposed a connecting link out of Central and South America.
    For nearly ten years I have been trying to get the BTA to develop a MILEAGE programme out of North America for the 200 million plus frequent flyer and loyalty members.

    After visiting WestJet’s headquarters I tried to persuade the CEO to change one or two of their B737 options into long distance versions that would enable non-stop services into Barbados from Winnipeg and Calgary.

    Ten of our remaining restaurants (12 have closed)
    are now hosting over 200 re-DISCOVER diners per week or an estimated 5,000 by December thanks to something we did ‘recent’ ly.

    And only yesterday, I met on a one-to-one basis with the new BTA President to discuss some of my concerns over the influx of another 1500 plus airlift seats PER WEEK from 1st october from the US, a market that has achieved an average annual growth of less than 1.3% for seven years.

    Now Hants, what have you done?

  17. Johnny Postle @

    A plan is only as big as it thinkers and the execution of any plan depends on decision makers with selfless interests.

  18. Analyzer

    Good point Johnny Postle, you sound like a smart cookie, we could use your help.

  19. Hants

    Adrian you have done a whole lot for Tourism in Barbados and since you own a Hotel you will benefit from your efforts.

    What have I done? Not very much but I look forward to more ideas coming from you and the BTA.

  20. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants,

    EVERY single Barbadian will benefit from the positive things we ARE doing in tourism, not just me as a hotelier.

    For those that can not directly play their part, they can at least support the people that are really trying to make a positive difference.

    Johnny Postle is right, its not just the plans, it the ability and tenacity to make them work.

  21. littleboy

    How amazing that the effect of a global crisis is not seen as having some impact on Barbados’ tourism. Panama is a hub and the Central and Latin American countries have not been victims of the recession in the same way as the US and theUK.
    Jamaica has had greater numbers but less revenue and in spite of the fact that they had increased their room stock.
    I have noticed that the BTA has been engaging the public through press briefings over the past three months and their plans have been enunciated, so maybe Adrian and company should pay some attention to those briefings.
    We can all criticize but let us do so fairly, please.
    As to the “firing”/”revoking” of Adrian’s appointment as a BTA director, that is the perogative of the Minister, and he is not the first and certainly not the last.

  22. Adrian Loveridge

    Littleboy,

    I do pay particular ‘attention to those briefings’
    and that is why just seven weeks away from when the flights commence, I felt compelled to ask questions.
    If you read my utterings carefully, you will see it is not meant to criticise, but more to help ensure everything that can be done, is.
    And that doesn’t just involve the BTA, it involves all of us in tourism.

    I will ask the question again!

    How can we add nearly an extra 100,000 airline seats per year into a market that has experienced a maximum growth of 3,274 persons in any one of seven consecutive years?

    I think its a legitimate question, even if there wasn’t a global economic recession.

  23. littleboy

    I listened to the new CEO who stated that the current marketing blitz in the USA had been yeilding good results. Also, load factors are usually around 80% so the 100,000 seat availability is not practical and you know that.
    However the CEO also stated that AA were using a smaller plane and there was also a case made out for competition to ease airfares.

    Let’s not be alarmist, but practical.

  24. Adrian Loveridge

    Agreed, lets be practical but also truthful.

    On which days and on which routes are American Airlines using smaller aircraft to Barbados?

  25. littleboy

    Truthful!!! Come on we are not here to play a game of one-upmanship.Tourism is a serious business.Tell us how many seats we lost from the US over the past years.And please comment on the major points…Panama is a main hub for South and Latin America…the BTA are currently engaged in a US sales blitz…competition from Jet Blue,US Airways,Delta will result in lower air fares and additional interest…Let us discuss real issues and not imagined ones.This is not a time for doom and gloom!!!

  26. littleboy

    And by the way, Solomon Islands attract less than 15,000 visitors per year.Compare that with over 500,000 long stay visitors to Barbados…apples and mangoes???

  27. X-MAN

    Excellent news if this is true. Barbados has been far to reliant on this fickle industry.

  28. Adrian Loveridge

    Littleboy,

    I get it.

    ‘Real issues’ do not include the truth and facts.

    I am pleased to hear that the BTA is involved in a sales blitz in the US. Thats news to many of us in tourism and don’t you find that strange?

    Personally, I have seen no evidence of it, nor have
    seen any smart partnerships with US Airways or JetBlue on their websites.

    Less than an average of 1.3% growth per annum in terms of long stay visitors out of the US for SEVEN consecutive years.

    If you cannot fill ONE plane a week (even one of the smallest like an A319 or B737) out of the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta, then there is fundamental problem. 6 million people live within a hours drive of Hartfield and it probably has more connecting flights than any other airport in the US.

    The question is not how many seats we have lost out of the US, its why we cannot fill the services we already have.

  29. Hants

    Do any of you have any great ideas to successfully market Barbados during this long recession?

    Canada and the USA are still in recesssion.

    Typical headline “Pace of U.S. economic decline slows; Canada still mired in recession.”
    July 31, 2009 06:50

    How do you get people to travel in these uncertain times?

  30. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants,

    A certain percentage of people still can afford and wish to travel.
    Already our little hotel is up to 80% occupancy in November with confirmed and deposited bookings.
    February is virtually full and January and March close behind.
    People are clearly looking for value.

    What about all those Canadians with AeroPlan miles and the 100 million plus Americans who already have sufficient miles to reach us.

    If they have the ability to reach us, then we have to offer value-for-money accommodation and all the other things that go with it.

    Its not about giving up, its about thinking smart.

  31. Mugaffy Allamby

    Whuh wunna woorring bout, neh. Bim got tings dat udders aint got.

    We got rent-a-dread, grass a plenty pun de beach, someting dat Hoad does talk bout in ‘e article, dat rhyme wid pulling and such tings dat some tourises want.

    Dat is service.

  32. Hants

    Adrian I am pleased that you are doing well.

    Hopefully the other Hotels in Barbados are following your lead.

  33. littleboy

    I like listening. Mr Rice said to the press that he was engaging his “team in a sales blitz in the US.” Am I to doubt him? Give him and the others a chance, please.Stop surmising

    Again, by te way…Solomon Islands attract less than 15,000 visitors er year…dispute that!!!

    Scaremongering will not help Barbados!!!

  34. Hants

    “Meanwhile work at the multi-million tourism project at Apes Hill has almost come to a halt.

    Confirmation of this from owner Sir Charles who says he’s travelled to London five times in the last three months to try and whip up interest in the project.

    But he says while people are making inquiries they are keeping their wallets shut.

    He says phase three has been put on hold as sales have “Slowed right down to a stop.”

  35. Hants

    Caribbean hotels recorded a 16 per cent decline in profits last year as a result of the ongoing global economic crisis, according to a new report by a Georgia-based hospitality consultancy firm.

  36. X-MAN

    Tourism is not the answer.

  37. Kelly

    As a US tourist, I have never been intrigued by your country, I keep hearing its beautiful BUT….. So my plans always go to staying at the beautiful AND safe place, NH Royal Punta Cana.

  38. ??

    Kelly

    Mass market tourism is not the Barbados Model… try us sometime and see the difference