Adrian Loveridge and Dennis Jones ask “Why not court the many and close South, Central & North American tourists?”

Two comments recently posted by BFP readers Adrian Loveridge and Dennis Jones question whether Barbados Tourism is paying enough attention to the large markets in the Americas. We’re chasing after the Chinese market which is fine, but why should we be ignoring a substantial market that is much much closer?

Fired BTA Member asks inconvenient questiions

Fired BTA Member asks inconvenient questiions

by Adrian Loveridge…

I am not sure what investment is needed by the BTA to attract economically viable numbers of residents from mainland China to Barbados for the purpose of tourism.

Straight line distance from Beijing to Barbados is 8,772 miles, so a minimum of 17 flying hours non-stop, assuming that we could fill a suitable plane that could fly that distance within permissable crewing requirements.

You would also have to ask (as many people have) WHY they would travel to Barbados, especially with resorts like Hainan Island virtually on their doorstep?

Also WHY any investment to procure tourists from China would be put above our sleeping giant to the south?

South America has a combined population of over 382 million. Add the other 40 million in Central America and its difficult to fathom how we cannot fill just ONE aircraft per week.

Brazil with 186 million persons alone is within remarkably easy reach. Belem, the capital of Para state is just over TWO flying hours away and offers nearly 40 other connecting Brazilian cities.

COPA, the Panama based airline could provide the best one-stop connections into almost every part of South and Central America to Barbados with the single risk of supporting a 98 seater jet three or four days a week flying Panama/Barbados.

I also have to ask the question again.

We are are now just 15 days away from seeing an additional nearly 100,000 airline seats per year flying into Barbados from the United States. So nearly DOUBLE the capacity from a market that has not achieved an annual growth of more than an average of 1.3% over the last seven consecutive years. Put that in perpective and its less than an additional 2,000 seats per year.

Having just returned from six days in the USA, I personally saw no evidence of television or print media advertising of Barbados.

by Dennis Jones & Colin L. Beadon…

Dennis Jones, writer of the excellent Living In Barbados blog and Colin L. Beadon are having a talk in BFP’s Open Discussion section.

Says Colin…

We’d say, we’d better all start learning Chinese. If we want to keep tabs on our possible offshore oil, our airlines, and business in general, the teaching of Chinese better start,…. right away in our schools, and in our newspapers. Or to use an expression in Trini Chinese, we are going to end up with ‘Macafushait’ ,…. meaning ,…. ‘Leftovers’.

Dennis Replies…

A lot of students (~100) are already on scholarships to learn Chinese (Mandarin), I understand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That’s a big number relative to the total national and student population. It still begs the question about whether focus on China makes much/more sense than tapping the large and close markets in Latin America and the USA.

FURTHER READING

You can also check out our earlier article: Everyone Has The Same Idea: Chinese Tourism Will Save Us!

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33 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, China

33 responses to “Adrian Loveridge and Dennis Jones ask “Why not court the many and close South, Central & North American tourists?”

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: tourism focus

  2. Hants

    I hope these good gentlemen are sharing their “advice” with the BTA.

    Barbados needs all the help it can get. This recession will continue for at least another year.

    The BTA has obviously reduced the TV and Print Ads in North America and increased the direct sales and joint venture promotions with the Airlines and Travel Agents.
    Apparently they have been travelling to the major cities to do “promotions” and “events”.

  3. Pingback: Barbados: tourism focus | Pastoon

  4. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants,

    I have always shared my thoughts with the BTA and in fact anyone that is interested.
    As a hotelier and active tourism player, don’t you think we should all be aware of the promotions that are going on?
    We certainly have not received ANY information or invitations to participate in any on-the-road promotions in the United States.

  5. Mobutu

    “The Chinese outbound market is growing at a phenomenal rate. In 2008, Chinese tourists made 45.8 million outbound trips, up 11.9 % from 2007. As the Chinese economy continues to grow (up 9% in 2008) and private incomes increase, travelling abroad is now becoming a regular part of Chinese life. The World Tourism Organisation predicts that China will be the 4th largest source of outbound tourists by 2020 with a predicted 100 million travellers per year”.

  6. Hants

    Adrian I found out about the promos in Canada from articles in Canadian newspapers.

    I agree that hoteliers should be kept up to date with what the BTA is doing.
    That is just common sense but “yuh know how it is wid we Bajans.”

    Anyhow, once the temperature up here hit -5 with a wind chill factor of -30 Canadians and Americans will be heading south.

  7. rasta man

    Good thing Mr Loveridge is associated with the DLP.
    As Smokey Burke said “My party in power they say”

  8. Adrian Loveridge

    Hants,

    Don’t get me wrong. We WERE very well informed about the CANADIAN promotional tours and due to other commitments I was unable to join any this year.
    I did last year and they were very well organised and the BTA/Private Sector participants worked together like a dream.

    I lived in Winnipeg for a while and fully appreciate your winters and I am sure you are right. Canada has been good to Barbados and I am confident that we are going to welcome many more over the next few months.

    I tried to persuade the CEO of WestJet to convert one or two of their B737 options into the 700 long range series.
    That would enable a non-stop service from Winnipeg and Calgary to Barbados.
    I havn’t convinced Mr. Duffy yet, but will not give up trying.

    Its the USA that concerns me.

  9. politcal whoredom

    Have any of you been to China?
    Have any of you witnessed Chinese tourism?

    When you do , tell me if you want that in Barbados.

    I have seen it all and while I can say I’m fond of China I dont want it for my island.

  10. Thewhiterabbit

    to Political Whoredom above:

    Please elaborate. I’ve not been to China, per se, but have seen “them” in Singapore and New Zealand, as well as in Chinatowns in the U.S. and Canada, and many working here. We need to know your opinion, but also some facts. What are your objections to Chinese as tourists, assuming they would come as tourists and not as “guest workers”.

  11. Hants

    @politcal whoredom.
    Have you been to Las vegas,New york city, New Jersey, Rhode Island?

    Up until now Barbados has kept out legalised Gambling and legalised prostitution.

    I have faith that Barbados will continue to make a concerted effort to resist the negative aspects of tourism you are alluding to.

  12. Hants

    uh oh I thought my last comment was ok. moderation BFP?

    **********

    BFP says

    We always approve evryting you say Hants but sometimes the compter grab it an we gone or drunk (ha ha ) so we doan get to it but now I did

    tx!

  13. politcal whoredom

    You cant compare Singapore or any other Chinese person with a mainlander!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dont for a second think I am racist or otherwise, I’d live in Beijign tomorrow if I could guarantee a certain 6 figure income! I love the food the culture and some of the people. I just dont see Bajans doing well with it.
    here are some of my objections
    1. noise
    2.gawking
    3.insane bargaining (i like to bargain when i am in China,it’s par for the course but when abroad they dont realise it isnt the same)
    4.just plain rude
    if you think americans are obnoxious multiply that by 50!
    5. I have yet to see a serious business plan that shows me how this makes money, and I heard/saw mention of a few

    I could add more conrete stuff with facts but then you’d have to pay me!

  14. Living in Barbados

    I have no particular remit with the BTA, but I get to speak to the Minister occasionally. The topic of China came up in a different context yesterday in a chance meeting with some civil servants and I’m trying to arrange a way to put my views formally (waiting a reply from the Ministry).

    I’ve been to mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I think I know what Hants is alluding to. But Chinese views on foreign travel and their ability to make trips are evolving, so I would watch cautiously and try to position to be what they would better appreciate–if that is ever clear. Let’s not lose sight of the immense distance between Asia and here and realise that only a very select body would really want to venture this far when other resorts of all kinds are much nearer.

  15. Living in Barbados

    Apologies, my latter comment should have been directed to ‘political whoredom’ not Hants.

  16. David Ross

    Latin America may have 400+million people but I have to ask, how many of them speak English? You need English to get by as a tourist and a fairly deep understanding of the language to interact with Bajans.

    Barbados tourism would have to be a niche market from Latin America, aimed toward those who already have some affinity toward the English Caribbean; like Martinique tourism from Canada.

  17. Sister Baby

    I think your re-action to the influx of Chinese tourists are similar to those of the American during the Japan boom days, when the Japanese began to travel, the Americans conjured up all sorts of distorations about the Japanese who turned out to be absolutely delightful tourists..I think most of the tourists destinations want white people as tourists. I have traveled a little, like to Trinidad, Suriname and French Guyana and I have noticed the white people get good treatment.

  18. Hants

    BFP I am offended by the inaccuracy of the photo at the top of the post.

    Johnny Walker Black should be replaced with ESAF white.

    We must give credit to those who support local industry and rumor has it that the gentleman may have singlehandedly saved the white rum Industry in Barbados.

    In honour of about 20% of my ancestry I will do my best for Scotland.

  19. Living in Barbados

    @David Ross, what you say about language may make sense, but you then have to try to explain why/how staff from the (Spanish-speaking) Dominican Republic, often with only a limited understanding of English feature prominently in many English-speaking resorts. It appears that their skill set is much better than English-speaking locals or migrants.

    Language only drives a certain part of tourism. Again, look at how significant tourism is in Europe for all countries, and it’s not English based. It’s about things of interest (history etc.), activities, value for money, climate, etc.

    Surely, the tourist destination should mould itself to the visitors than expecting the visitors to do the moulding?

  20. Adrian Loveridge

    David,

    I am afraid that I don’t agree with you on this one.
    Hundreds of thousands of people in South America speak English. I was in Argentina less than a year ago and there is growing number of highly educated people who want and have the financial means to travel.
    Some already do, to play Polo on Barbados.

    But ‘we’ must PREPARE.

    Its now over ten years since I pleaded with the BTA to place a Spanish and Portuguese language version on the national website, so at least some of those 400 million plus potential travellers could do the prior research or planning.
    Look on Utube and you will see a Spanish version of a television ‘ad’ prepared for the BTA. Of course it was almost a waste of time and money because it contained no-call-to action (telephone number or website address).

    I am am NOT advocating an instant new route like we did in the past with BWIA and Brazil, but a plan that includes ALL the options like smart partnerships, freight, agro processing, niche markets etc.
    Government is looking at trying to reduce the cost of living on Barbados. If you have ever been to Northern Brazil and seen their development of food processing, this may be part of the answer to both reducing the cost of food for families and the hospitality industry.
    US$2 per kilo in freight charges could easily offset the start-up cost of a passenger service.

  21. Piedpiper

    Adrian, surely you did not mean “David”?

  22. +

    I suggest that all advertising in the USA be stopped.

    The USA has become a criminal culture – one that allows gangs of stalkers to openly and notoriously stalk, harass, poison and irradiate people without the slightest interference from the police or government.

    You do not want Americans infecting your culture.

    If you are about to disagree with me, please do a web search on gang stalking .

    +

  23. Adrian Loveridge

    PiedPiper,

    David Ross, a previous poster.

  24. Hants

    Welcome home World champion Ryan Brathwaite.

    Hopefully the BTA will use you in their ads in Europe and the USA where Track and Field is big.

    Surely they can find a half mill or so to use your name and image.

    I am sure the BTA would have contacted John Regis to negotiate a deal.

  25. David Ross

    Living in Barbados: “Surely, the tourist destination should mould itself to the visitors than expecting the visitors to do the moulding?”

    But then Barbados wouldn’t be Bimshire anymore would it? It would end up getting Hispanicised like northern Belize, except without those nice Maya ruins.

    Adrian, your point about Argentina is well taken – but Argentina (and Chile) has that affinity toward the Anglosphere I had mentioned. A lot of Welsh and other northern Europeans settled Argentina and secondarily learnt Spanish.

    I’m not saying, and I’m sorry insofar as I implied, that Barbados should ignore the Iberian-speaking market. But the campaign should use what Barbados actually is, as its strength; and not just run a few clips of beaches with a Spanish voiceover. Do that and your Latino tourists will feel deceived.

  26. KISSMYA

    I love the picture on the banner
    Man wunnah does do the politicians too bad though !

    LMAO
    LOL

  27. Living in Barbados

    @David Ross: “But then Barbados wouldn’t be Bimshire anymore would it? It would end up getting Hispanicised like northern Belize, except without those nice Maya ruins.”
    [My idea of ‘moulding’ is to mean accommodate. Adrian touched on it when he mentioned advertising in relevant languages. The other way to look at to whom are you catering?

    When I first came to Barbados nearly 3 years ago, road signs were very poor. Now there is much better signposting that can help all including the tourist navigate, not just ‘out of city’, or ‘into city’ on bus stops: it’s known that many visitors like to tour by car, but fear of getting lost is a constraint. The road system is really geared to the most knowledgeable of locals. With experience I can drive from Holetown to Bathsheba via Apees Hill without a map and by various routes, but there are few road signs to help me from Holetown.

    Having notices in say Spanish or French would acknowledge the likelihood of Caribbean neighbours with these tongues being visitors. It may be that they are not numberous; so we also have chicken and egg.

    If you visit any tourist establishment, how many staff can converse or even deal with elementary things in a language other than English? I try French or Spanish at restaurants and hotels and get blankness.

    Just examples of what I mean. It’s more attitude and approach.]

  28. Living in Barbados

    @David Ross, I think the truth is that for the major Latin American market travel to English speaking resorts like Barbados, which are not really offering much more than sea, sand, sex, and sun, will be marginal. Given linguistic/cultural differences, it may make more sense to for them to tap markets like Dominican Republic, if they leave the sub continent at all. There are all the well developed resorts in places like Mexico and existing air links. Likewise with French speaking Caribbean visitors, who may find that Barbados offers little that would be new and for whom it’s simpler to fly to France than to hop on the regional milk tour.

    My sense though is that the Bajan tourism product would look and feel better if it had a ‘face’ that could ‘smile’ at other linguistic/cultural groups in the region. (For exotic markets like the Chinese it may need a special package to really make sense.) If in developing staff for the sector no importance is given to this then I think the end product will be seen as less than it could be.

  29. You people talk about South Americans not speaking english, what about the chinese? They don’t either. I am totally against this idea and from many points of view. 1. Do we have trained folks in the tourism industry who can communicate with them effectively. 2. What do we know about their culture to offer fitting entertainment and meals.
    3. Chinese people have been brought up under a communist system of Government, so once here will they be many instances of them NOT wanting to leave (like the fiasco we had to pay for with the ones from Africa). 4. I have had a personal run-in with a chinese in New York selling to West Indians in New York. I tried to find out how/ where he got the Bajan products displayed from, he got agitated at my question, got very upset and made it abundantly clear that people like me (meaning blacks) “not even fit to eat”. Needless to say, many of them are racist too.
    So for me personally, as long as David Thompson continues to take advice from and can disgustingly defend that moron of an advisor who castigated the Nation staff who sees himself as some God to ALL politicos in the Caribbean I will NEVER welcome one chinese to this island.

  30. Living in Barbados

    @Adrian Loveridge: I had a message from a friend who works in one of the local hotels informing me and others that her position was made redundant. Such an event is not a surprise during this recession. What does surprise me is that staff had been asked to take a pay cut, but it seems that the owner did not curb his spending and entertainment of friends and acquaintances for ‘free’. If that is what people are having to deal with it is easy to understand if people did not show loyalty. But those workers who are diligent and loyal and make sacrifices should not have their heads chopped off twice.

    I wont take this as typical of the sector but it is not an image that makes me smile.

  31. Adrian Loveridge

    Living in Barbados,

    Its very difficult for me to comment objectively without knowing which hotel and all sides of the story.

    For many of the hotels that have been discount driven and rely largely on tour operators, its been a tough year and its difficult to know what they can NOW do to reduce costs any further.

    For little hotels like ours it would have been absolutely pointless to stay open this summer, because we simply could not compete with the level of discounting.

    Fortunatly, the winter for us looks good and we are already up to about 70% overall occupancy with deposited bookings at published rates.

    My real concern is that in just over a week we have an additional 1,500 airline seats per WEEK
    coming into Barbados from the United States.
    This from a market that has not produced an average increase of more than 1,700 additional long stay visitors per YEAR for the last seven years.
    In theory, JetBlue’s lower prices would have driven new business, but American matched their lower fares on certain routes within hours.

  32. Living in Barbados

    @Adrian, I’m sure that you understand that the desire to keep anonymity in tact at least for a while means being less than fullsome with the story. I was exploring the ethics as much as anything, but also understand your reply.

    In a market that benefits a lot from repeat visitors, I know that some of these are attracted back by the quality of service and attention they get from personnel who are now being let go.

    One of the concerns that I would have if I were a policy maker is the way that seasoned talent (say staff with a decade or more in the sector are the ones being let go). That to me seems like a bad use of investment. But let’s not flog the horse on this one any more. I hope to write a post on the matter later today.

    I’ll be in Jamaica later this week and will try to get a feel for what is going on there.

    Thanks.

  33. Hants

    Adrian Loveridge “we have an additional 1,500 airline seats per WEEK.”

    I expect that the Airlines adding these seats will include Barbados in their Advertising in the USA.

    I hope the BTA has done the obvious and advertised and promoted the “Jet Blue” addition.

    I read that Government has given hotels assistance (about $25 million) so that should help get them ready for the winter season.