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
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.
Latin Business Chronicle: The Truth About Panama’s Tourism