Idiocy! Government Minister Hutson says “Look to Latinos”, but Barbados Tourism Authority failed to establish Spanish, Portuguese language websites despite 10 years of begging by hotel owners

Those leaders who can… do. The rest of the politicians and tourism officials talk, talk, talk and then do nothing.

Can Minister Hutson have Portuguese and Spanish BTA websites up in 30 days or is he just blowing smoke?

Can Minister Hutson have Portuguese and Spanish BTA websites up in 30 days or is he just blowing smoke?

Minister of International Business and International Transport George Hutson gave a press conference last Sunday where he mused about the possibilities of targeting South American markets to fill the tourism void during the “off” season – and to try to raise some new business opportunities.

The Barbados Advocate picked up on Hutsons’ comments with an article Look to Latinos and an editorial today Don’t stay behind the barrier.

All of this makes sense, although with the emphasis on Spanish in the articles it seems that neither the Minister nor the professional journalists at the Barbados Advocate realise that the language spoken by the majority of South Americans is Portuguese. Spanish is also huge in South America and is, of course, the language of Central America – but if we’re serious about South America we must target Portuguese as well as Spanish.

Oh well, not to get upset about it because the truth is that nothing will be done.

The Minister spoke a fine little speech, and the newspaper printed a fine little article and editorial.

That’s it, folks. That’s all you’ll see. This is Barbados and we do – or don’t do – things a certain way.

The current DLP government has been in power for 20 months now, coming up on two years.

If the government and the Minister were serious about South America, they would already have ordered Spanish and Portuguese language options on the websites of the Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation.

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If the government or the Minister really cared about the South American market, they would have taken a week and put up Spanish and Portuguese sections on the government websites.

People who take vacations have money, and the web is a huge resource in deciding where to go. If you want to attract tourists or investors from a certain market or region the first thing is to put up a website in the language of your potential customer. Pretty basic stuff. I mean, you could probably hire some drunken paro to consult for the Barbados Tourism Authority and even he’d know that if you want to attract Portuguese tourists you should put up a website in Portuguese.

Any idiot knows that, but apparently the folks at the Barbados Tourism Authority and Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (or whatever it’s called this week) are either too lazy, too stupid or just don’t care enough to provide foreign language capabilities on their websites.

It would only take one person a few days, perhaps a week

There’s nothing to it. The BTA and BIDC already have the websites developed with English content, so they have all the hard programming done. All it would take would be translated content – maybe a couple of days work if that for a competent translator – and both the BTA and the BIDC would have Spanish and Portuguese websites up and going.

Nothing to it technically. All it takes is somebody who gives a damn enough to give the order and make it happen. Tough to find such a person in politics or government service, I guess.

Tourism business owners like Adrian Loveridge have regularly suggested Portuguese and Spanish websites to the government and the Barbados Tourism Authority for over a decade and Minister Hutson is only the latest politician to hold a press conference proclaiming that targeting South American tourists is a great idea.

Today is September 23, 2009. Technically it would take about a week to put up Spanish and Portuguese language websites at the BTA and the BDIC. We’ll check back in a month and see if Minister Hutson was just talking shite after church on Sunday or if he is capable of producing an actual result.

The following comment was left on Barbados Free Press a few days ago by Adrian Loveridge…

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 travelers could do the prior research or planning.
 Look on YouTube 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.

Adrian Loveridge

28 Comments

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

28 responses to “Idiocy! Government Minister Hutson says “Look to Latinos”, but Barbados Tourism Authority failed to establish Spanish, Portuguese language websites despite 10 years of begging by hotel owners

  1. Hants

    The same way Barbados hotels hire foreign chefs,
    interpreters can be hired.

    Isn’t there a restaurant called churrasco something that serves south american cuisine.

    People from South America and everywhere else in the world travel to English speaking countries on vacation.

    Never seen spanish on a menu in Montreal,New York or Toronto but that don’t stop the rich south americans from visiting.

    Stop making excuses and go after the South American market. Just treat them exceptionally well and they will be happy.

    Adios!

  2. Chicago

    I love the way BFP cuts through the B.S. to get to the simple truth “If the government or the Minister really cared about the South American market, they would have taken a week and put up Spanish and Portuguese sections on the government websites.”

    Well done BFP.

  3. BFP

    Hello Hants

    I think that to appear friendly and get the Portuguese and Spanish tourists to Barbados, we have to have a multi-language website. As Adrian Loveridge says in his comment, not much use screening a commercial in Spanish and then not publishing a contact number or Spanish website where the people can take action.

    Here is the Japan National Tourism Organization website in nine languages including Portuguese… http://www.jnto.go.jp/

    Germany has some 27 countries and their languages represented on their official tourism website. http://www.germany-tourism.de/

  4. West Side Davie

    Hutson talkin shite. There is no way the BTA will have a spanish/portuguese website option in 30 days. They can’t even make a decision to wipe their backsides in 30 days. 🙂

  5. reality check

    You would be amazed at the number of Barbadians who are fluent in Spanish or Portugese.

    Actually, it would take a maximum of a day for each language with a button on the main English page to instantly convert to each language.

    Then you would need someone to respond to inquiries about an hour a week or more if necessary.

    This is not rocket science.

  6. Living in Barbados

    A view that is also not rocket science is that the whole of the country needs to be able to complement places like hotels and restaurants and specific tourism activities in the effort to boost tourism. So, BTA can do what it likes to build Portuguese, Spanish, and I would say French to cover most of the region (rather than just Latin America). But, what of immigration officers, policemen, port officials, anyone who will meet tourists at their point of entry?

    As I said on another thread, using different words. It’s not hard to see why there are problems and why the sector appears weak.

    I hear today of a survey to be done by BHTA to measure the sector’s competitiveness. Is this the first time?

  7. correction

    BFP wrote: “All of this makes sense, although with the emphasis on Spanish in the articles it seems that neither the Minister nor the professional journalists at the Barbados Advocate realise that the language spoken by the majority of South Americans is Portuguese. Spanish is also huge in South America and is, of course, the language of Central America – but if we’re serious about South America we must target Portuguese as well as Spanish.”

    From Advocate editorial:
    “Tapping into the Brazilian potential also means that we will have to embrace a new foreign language and persons with foresight will take the initiative to capitalise on this new market.”

  8. Hants

    “the numbers for 2008 are now in for Toronto, and the hotel and tourism sectors set a record with 10.66 million overnight visitors – up from 10.5 million the previous year.”

    Not bad considering the 2 languages spoken by Customs officers and Pearson Airport personnel are English and French.

    And they will recommend you go to the Magazine shop and pick up a “your language” to English travel dictionary.

  9. David Ross

    I participated in that earlier thread… and I remember Adrian’s comment as being a highlight of it. Thanks BFP for elevating it.

    I pointed out then that Patagonia (southern Argentina) has a LOT of ancestral Brits who happen to speak Spanish as a first language, and so I think Barbados would be wise to try that market first.

    Another possible problem: December-April is *summer* south of the equator and, at Argentine latitudes, the one time of year they like to stay home.

    You could try plugging JUNE, for Argentines, as the time to visit Bim. June isn’t the peak time for Nortamericanos to visit; it’s our summer and the weather isn’t much different from yours then. But for Argentines, especially Patagonians, it’s getting cold and miserable in June.

  10. Living in Barbados

    @David Ross, I understand the British connection in Patagonia, but what is it that Barbados will be offering to those Argentines of British origin (or any Argentine for that matter)? Whatever it is, will it really be an enticing proposition to make the trek–and it is that– to here?

  11. KISSMYA

    after sometime in office, what has this DLP government done for the good of barbados ?????

  12. PiedPiper

    Quote Hants: “Not bad considering the 2 languages spoken by Customs officers and Pearson Airport personnel are English and French.”

    The two official language requirements of any Federal government employee are French and English but they also actively hire all other languages as well.

  13. worse or ?

    “after sometime in office, what has this DLP government done for the good of Barbados ?????”

    About the only major thing is reduce large untendered offshore infrastructure
    jobs and spending, to a trickle.

    Thats because the BLP left pantry bare bare bare.

    Other than that, nothing much has changed if not gotten worse because there is no accountability with peoples heads being on the chopping block.

    Why is that Leroy Parris is contemplating retiring
    after the destruction of one of the biggest Corporations in the Caribbean with far reaching effects on every person in BIM?

    Why hasn’t the undemocratic oversight committee not fired his sorry a__ and demanded his resignation?

  14. Chinese Tourists

    I’ve said it before, and will say it again: “Going after the South America market is a waste of time and money”

    That money and resouces should be expended in our traditional market. In other words, we need to worker harder with whom we have.

    What is a “South American tourist?”

  15. canadian

    The National Post in a July edition : “About 10.6 million tourists visited Toronto in 2008, showing flat growth from a year earlier. Two million of those made the trip from the United States, down from a peak of about 2.5 million in years past. The latest hotel occupancy numbers from Statistics Canada show an abysmal start to the year nationwide. One four-star hotel recently offered Internet-based reservations for $49 per night. ”

    A different assessment from a previous post about record growth for Toronto tourism but nevertheless any 4 star hotels in Barbados at $ 49 a night for internet based reservations?

  16. Living In Barbados: I’d thought that English-Caribbean culture, and (in June) a relief from early winter temperature, might appeal to Patagonians.

    I talked with my dad (who’s actually been to Argentina) and he said that Patagonians were a “dirt poor” population, so they might not have the cash to visit… but I can’t believe that every British-descended Argentine (or Chilean) is a transplanted sheep farmer. There’s got to be a constituency for a Bajan visit there.

    Failing that, Dad thinks that Venezuelans might prefer to drop by if they’re touring the lower Caribbean; especially if they decide to skip Trinidad.

  17. John

    Many Bajans (including Millie) went to Brazil.

    They went to build a railroad.

    Occasionally I find Bajans who entered Ellis Island in the early 1900’s have Argentina as one of the countries they left.

    Met a couple of ladies at the Archives from Guadeloupe whose Grandfather came from Blades Hill in St Philip and went to Suriname as a young man.

    Follows there will be descendants of Bajans living in South America …….. and of course, Central America …. eg Panama ….. in fact, all over the world!!

  18. John

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48546

    Thought this was an interesting news item.

    We may not be looking for a way there

    ….. but they are looking for a way here!!

  19. Living in Barbados

    @David Ross. I’m not doubting that there will be appeal for sun, sea, sand, sex as offered by Barbados, but for it to be a draw to people in Patagonia it’s got to be more than just there. The same alternatives are in Mexico, or other resorts. It’s about ‘intervening opportunities’, value for money, etc.. Africa is easier to get to from South America.

    Sure, a market may exist for ‘historic tourism’ but is a country like Barbados going to put eggs into that basket to make the sector more vibrant?

    But, the thinking on the subject is all good. Individuals are also good ambassadors and many visitors check a place based on personal recommendations, so keep plugging away.

  20. Living in Barbados

    @John, Guyana has a lot to gain (and some would say a lot to lose, too) from closer association with its South American neighbours.

    Funny, I reproduced on my blog last night a paper written by John Phillips, back in 1993, about how Barbados and Guyana could somehow meld and get some major gains, http://livinginbarbados.blogspot.com/2009/09/barguyados-can-sum-of-parts-produce.html.

  21. peltdownman

    There are so many factors at play in any potential market.
    Size of market
    Exchange rate
    Per capita income
    Distance from Barbados
    Availability of transport
    Seasonality
    Competing destinations

    Time for you to learn even more econometrics, LIB, and build us a model.

    ***********************

    BFP says,

    But what the Hell, peldownman. Why not just put up the Spanish and Portuguese websites and see what happens?

    I suppose the government could detail a committee to “study” it.

    What a pathetic joke.

  22. Living in Barbados

    @peltdownman: “Time for you to learn even more econometrics, LIB, and build us a model.”
    As I read more reports about recent activities by the tourism sector, my already high concerns go higher. I read “Ease for hotels” (Nation, Sep 24, p. 3): that says essentially that the government’s effort to reap revenue by raising water rates gets some offset by a subsidy from banks through loan moratoria and guarantees–not how the Nation puts it, but that’s what’s happening; BHTA has commissioned a study to ‘revamp’ the island’s tourism; look at taxation of the industry; and see if the $2.4 billion earned cannot move to $2.8-3 billion. Yet, no one seems able to say what is the net contribution of tourism to the economy. We are led to believe it is positive with the figures for income, but with no hint at what tourism is costing. I asked the question on Brass Tacks months ago and got waffle. It’s been asked of sector experts and the central bank before and since and the answer is still pending.

    You do not need a model. You need some clear understanding of what is going on.

    I read about a tourism master plan in 2008 and to this day, I have not seen it. I mentioned this back in March, see http://livinginbarbados.blogspot.com/2009/03/does-anyone-have-clue-where-barbados_24.html.

    Yet, we also read today that the PM will meet Bajans in Britain, again as part of a BHTA initiative (Nation, p 5).

    Why? No plan, yet all this effort? Going where to what purpose? If this sector is the core, how can it make progress without a compass and a map?

    I don’t need to mine data to understand that policy seems to have no base and is uncoordinated.

    If someone thinks that’s wrong I’m all ears.

  23. HEY iF YOu Have GOOGLE TRANSLATE taht can do the Trick … There are more serious thing happening in Barbados LIKE CORRUPTION and ABUSE of pOWER ….Foreigners getting drunk with BiG shots and Bribing dem way in :ALSO the Chinese Moving in too ..Their way to give stuff and then demand something ..They OwN the MF and now got America over a Barrel …WAR COMING SooN

  24. 9 months ago Wayne Capaldi was saying we needed to target the european market when the euro was stronger than the pound. Whatever became of that? We off that and on to Latin America now?

    Lemme know when we get to Guyana.. that should be interesting.

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  28. WTF?

    @ Adrian Loveridge:

    What is the state of Latin tourism in Barbados. It has been a few years since we started in a big way. Are we taking in more money than we spent yet?