Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism MATTERS – Remembering David Thompson and looking to the future

My deepest sympathy goes out to Mrs. Mara Thompson, her daughters and entire family.

I would like to hold onto my special memories of the late Prime Minister and recall one of our few exchanges.

Soon after his illness was announced, you could see the strain on his face, and in a simple attempt to bring a smile, I emailed him a YouTube extract of a BBC ‘Yes Prime Minister’ episode.

In his inimitable style, a few minutes later, a message came back, ‘Adrian, Thank you, it’s my favourite programme’.

Tourism MATTERS: The Hilton – opportunity lost can be regained!

Every time I visit the Hilton, I leave thinking the same thought… Didn’t ‘we’ miss an incredible opportunity?

Whether it was a decision taken due to financial restrictions or simply lack of vision, perhaps we will never know.

The location must be one of the most spectacular on Barbados. It has all the ingredients anyone could wish for. A protected beach, the long crescent shaped Carlisle Bay and both the Garrison Savannah and capital within comfortable walking distance.

Architecturally and structurally, I would have thought that it could easily have been incorporated, in the basement or on the roof, a single meeting space on one level of at least 10,000 square feet that has the functionality of sub-division. Yes, the former Sherbourne, now Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, has served us well over the years, but almost anyone that has attended meetings overseas will tell you, they want to stay in, or close to where it is taking place.

It is sometimes mind boggling to see the number of functions that are scheduled to start at 9am at the LESC. Especially when the children are at school and you have to battle through rush hour traffic. LESC also needs some upgrading. Fully functioning air conditioning and in this technological era, complimentary WiFi is almost essential if individuals or organisations are going to justify the costs of mounting exhibitions.

Perhaps, it’s not too late for both the Hilton and the Needham’s Point peninsular?

There appears to be no shortage of land close-by, to build such a facility, including the former Holborn oil storage site.

Trinidad and Tobago saw the potential and built a new conference facility, incorporating it with a major brand name hotel, the Hyatt. We know of a number of high level meetings that have taken place there, but I wonder if anyone has calculated the Dollar generation and increased arrival numbers, it has produced since opening.

Clearly, it is in Government’s interest to ensure as many of the Hilton’s 350 plus rooms are full as often as possible. Achieving this has a number of secondary benefits including protecting airlift and the trickle down effect on other tourism partners and retail outlets.

And despite the current fiscal limitations, we could go on re-build the Engineer’s Pier and provide world class over water dining options. The existing and very popular boardwalk could then be extended link the yet to be developed Pierhead project. Consideration might also be given to acquiring the St. Ann’s Fort site with its unique historical buildings.

Probably within a planning and construction period of five years, or less, Barbados could end up with one of the most desirable year round warm weather convention venues in the region, if not the world.

I can almost sense, what some readers are thinking, Government borrowing more money?

Not necessarily.  We have yet to be told if the Sapphire Beach joint condominium project, where a private company has built on taxpayers land, has at least partly redressed the losses of GEMS. Have Hotels and Resorts Limited any available equity, where the remaining hotels could be sold and the monies used in more productive ways?

It must be abundantly apparent by now, that owning and operating hotels should be left to the private sector and driven by market demand.

Adrian Loveridge,

November 1, 2010

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10 Comments

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

10 responses to “Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism MATTERS – Remembering David Thompson and looking to the future

  1. This is by far one of the most intelligent comments I have read about tourism for years. It is amazing that this vision is so scarce on our island. Imagine demolishing the old Hilton and rebuilding it without the most modern up to date conference facilities.

  2. RRRicky

    It’s about piling new mistakes on top of old ones to keep the coverup going. To have built a premier conference facility at the Hilton would have been to admit that all the money poured into the Sherbourne / Sandiford Centre WAS WASTED. Plus there was probably some backdoor payments going on to friends so by not putting a conference centre at the Hilton they secured the business of the current conference centre.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    RRRicky,

    But it should not stop us moving forward.

    The monies wasted on GEMS could have given us one of the finest conference centres in the Caribbean at Needhams Point and leaving the Dover Convention Centre where it was could have helped keep some of the 31 closed hotels in business.

    We have to learn by our mistakes and move on!

  4. RRRicky

    I agree with you Adrian. The wastage and admitting they were wrong shouldn’t have stopped the government from doing the right thing with the Hilton: but it did.

  5. Undertaker

    Adrian, do you think that anything can be done to regain some of the room stock lost? Can refurbishment or building be done within a 5-7 year period? Is the now inforced british tax the death of that market for us especially since st. Lucia has advanced so much on us?

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    Undertaker,

    the comments recently made by the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados were very relative concerning the need to upgrade existing stock. We have closed so many windows to the sea with hideous condominiums, many of which remain unsold, when they could have easily been the other side of the road.
    With current low interest rates it seems a terrible shame that some sort of fund could not be established to enable hotels to upgrade.

    But I am afraid it all comes back to having a plan that all the players understand and can follow.

    Of course the increase in the APD is another hurdle to overcome, but we all have to get more creative. Thomas Cook have found a way to offset or dilute the tax and thats the sort of initiative we should be thinking about.

    Up until 1st November the Barbados Government was collecting more TAX than the British Government on the cheapest roundtrip ticket to/from London.

  7. caribman

    I belive that Sherbourne has been justified although that too was badly planned in the beginning and remained unfinished for years. However, we cannot continue to make the same mistakes and then have to waste money over and over. I hope this artcle about the obvious short comings of the new Hilton will gain national exposure because I suspect that public funds are sometimes disbursed with little or no accountability.

  8. esar budhu

    please send us a link so that we can view the pm funeral

  9. Adrian Loveridge

    BDS$8.5 million to provide a 321 car parking space at LESC or at 6.5% interest, BDS$4.71 per SINGLE car parking space per DAY in interest ALONE.

    LESC already has an ‘accumulated deficit of BDS$6.3 million.
    Is this a better option than building a new conference facility at Needham’s Point?

  10. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘We also need to consider that there are plans as well for developing conferencing facilities in the Carlisle Bay, Needhams area, in which case you can have the larger facilities there where you can accommodate the various concert hall type activities’.
    Minister Richard Sealy, Nation 17th November 2010.
    Could it be that the Minister read the Tourism MATTTERS column?