Barbados Tourism Authority: $100 Million Dollar Budget, but…

Tourism MATTERS

by Adrian Loveridge - Small hotel owner

For some reason, all the tourism policymakers I have approached have been reluctant to confirm exactly what the law is relating to the registration and licensing of our tourism accommodation.

While researching the mandate of the Barbados Tourism Authority,  the body entrusted to regulate the industry, I came up with Chapter 342 of the Laws of Barbados which clearly states under section 25 (1) that ‘No person shall operate any tourist accommodation unless that person first applies for and obtains a licence issued in accordance with the regulations’.

That seems unequivocal and straight forward enough. If the law has been changed and amendments made since this was enacted which significantly changes the rules then please let us know?

If they have not, then clearly the law is not being enforced and judging by the increasing number of websites highlighting new accommodation providers which appear almost on a weekly basis, it must be an area of concern.

Perhaps before the internet, unlicensed properties would have gone largely unnoticed, but that has all changed. With travel reference sites like TripAdvisor attracting over 40 million unique visitors per month even properties with 4 or 5 rooms can generate major interest.

Many are not registered or licensed at all and some I am told have their application pending but seem to be carrying on business as usual in the meantime.

So why should we be worried?

The annual budget granted to the Barbados Tourism Authority has approached almost a $100 million annually.

It seems inconceivable that marketing funds could be spent most effectively without knowing the extent of our entire room stock. There is also the question of quality control, safety, security and health.

If they are unlicensed what proof is there to ensure they carry all the necessary fire and health certificates, insurance for public liability and do they pay all due taxes including VAT.

How are visitors staying in unlicensed properties factor in overall long stay arrival numbers?

And what if there is a problem, defective or over-booked accommodation, who is going to mediate to ensure the reputation of the destination is protected?

Of course, there is a simple solution.

That all categories of rentable accommodation are carried on a publicly accessible online listing! Those properties inspected and approved by the BTA would be granted a unique registration number. This could also be used for any duty free or other concessions.

All pending applications would be listed as well and once the license had been granted they would move over the approved section.

Any increased costs of implementing such a register could be recouped through an application fee.

The need to better regulate the industry is becoming even more critical if we are going to maximise earnings, improve quality assurance and give the booking public clear guidelines to standards they can expect.

The British Government’s recent announcement that they were abandoning their national hotel star rating system and suggesting that people use social media reference sites like TripAdvisor instead, should indicate the imperative to bring about changes in the way we do business.

9 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

9 responses to “Barbados Tourism Authority: $100 Million Dollar Budget, but…

  1. Finally somebody that has a CLUE about the Destination and domestic product…

  2. CanuckBajan

    Another sensible and implementable idea from Mr. Loveridge. I hope to God someone, somewhere in Ministry of Tourism is paying attention!
    For a darker alternative, all should read To Hell With Paradise: A History Of The Jamaican Tourist Industry, by Frank Fonda Taylor.

  3. travler

    With a $100 million dollar budget there needs to be very concentrated effort on deciding what the product is that BTA is selling. There was a recent picture in the Advocate of the PM at a reception for returning Barbados tourists. I doubt if there was a person under 60 years of age in that picture. That picture defines a large part of what the challenges for BTA is.:
    “Attracting the younger generation who seem not to be coming to Barbados as often as their parents have. ”

    Cost is a prime consideration.

    Having a stock of well approved and competitive accomodations available and putting that together wth a economical charter opeator and some good adverising will get the wheel turning on the younger generation. But in the days of twitter, facebook, and trip advisor you get few second chances to get it right.

  4. Colin L Beadon

    Britain, is running broke.
    The main reason younger British tourists and visitors are not coming to Barbados is that they cannot afford the flights, or Barbados these days, unless of course, they are older, or are those who make huge bonus in banks. People, those above 50, can get good deals through such companies as Saga in the UK. They are the people who lived during the years when you could save money and make interest on it, or could make money safely enough in the stock market, or in a business, provided you did not freak out each time there was a dip.
    But all that has changed now. The younger generation are being overtaxed in the UK, to pay for the millions of older people who can no longer rely on their savings stuck in banks devoid of the cushion of any interest worth talking about.
    The younger generation are being over taxed because the UK is in deep shit for reasons that anybody who bothers to listen to the BBC or reads the British news, can be quite assured about, the immigration influx, being just one reason, coupled with the instability it is causing, being another. There are so many reasons of bad monetary management and excesses,…. that have caused British demise.
    So what? Do you suppose the British government is paying for all this excess out of its own coffers, including fighting the war in Afghanistan and Iraq ? And why do you think Britain wants to shut down the BBC programing to our islands, and stop the anti drug naval force, when both these things can only end up doing her more harm ?

  5. Green Monkey

    And here’s another cloud looming on the horizon; it’s another cloud of airplane grounding, volcanic dust. Iceland’s Bárdarbunga volcano is showing signs that it might be about to blow it’s top, and it is expected to produce an ash cloud many times bigger than that of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption which severely disrupted European air travel in April/May of 2010.

    Icelandic volcano ‘set to erupt’
    Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year’s event.

    Geologists detected the high risk of a new eruption after evaluating an increased swarm of earthquakes around the island’s second largest volcano.

    Pall Einarsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, says the area around Bárdarbunga is showing signs of increased activity, which provides “good reason to worry”.

    He told the country’s national TV station that a low number of seismometer measuring devices in the area is making it more difficult to determine the scale and likely outcome of the current shifts.

    But he said there was “every reason to worry” as the sustained earthquake tremors to the north east of the remote volcano range are the strongest recorded in recent times and there was “no doubt” the lava was rising.

    snip

    The last recorded eruption of Bárdarbunga was in 1910, although volcanologists believe its last major eruption occurred in 1477 when it produced a large ash and pumice fallout. It also produced the largest known lava flow during the past 10,000 years on earth.

    It is the second largest volcano on Iceland and is directly above the mantle plume of molten rock.

    By comparison, Bárdarbunga dwarves the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which shutdown most of Europe’s airspace last year after its ash cloud drifted across the continent’s skies.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/iceland/8311924/Icelandic-volcano-set-to-erupt.html

  6. Sue

    I agree. I recently called the ministry of tourism to find out how to register a villa. I was referred to the BTA who told me that they do not register villas or do compliance checks. They referred me back to the ministry. What is going on here? Who does the registering? This man is right !

  7. travler

    Here is a link to a report referenced in the Advocate today. It would be well worth publishing the parts relative to Tourism growth on this blog. Maybe it would be a wake up call. If I read it correctly it reports that 54% of the GDP relates to tourism and it is not growing at a signficant rate. THIS SHOULD BE A WAKE UP CALL to BTA. There is no time to waste in dealing with the problems and coming up wit a plan to correct them.
    http://www.caricom.org/jsp/community_organs/ctir_2010_executive_summary.pdf

  8. J. Payne

    @Colin L Beadon. IMHO I feel there are a number of factors at play. I predicted there would also be side effects from British Airways merging with Iberia airlines as well. Spain and Portugal have long aimed at securing more British tourists/home buyers and they tout their closeness.
    Couple that too with the European Union’s aim of consolidation… The roles and responsibilities of the “Outer Regions” of the E.U. ( https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Template:Outlying_territories_of_European_countries ) in addition to the E.U.’s central region are now being redefined.
    The countries of Europe are encouraging tourists to stay within their sphere (i.e. the Dutch territories and French territories for the Caribbean.) Similarly, the United States is trying to encourage more Americans to start doing the same with US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. It wont be long until the British government probably starts making conditions more favourable for their overseas territories in a bid to spur their own development. Tony Blair visiting Barbados every year was I feel an exception. I think in future you’ll probably see British MPs choosing to visit their own British territories for holiday more often.

  9. J. Payne

    And the other shoe drops. The USA to implement tax on travel to the Caribbean (outside of U.S. territories.)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2011/02/110218_friday_news_roundup.shtml