Daily Archives: March 27, 2012

Government should share tourism research… whatever there is of it.

by Adrian Loveridge - small hotel owner

I frequently wonder exactly how scientific and thorough the research on which ‘we’ base decisions, before going on to spend ten of millions of marketing dollars annually.

For instance what proportion of our long stay visitors are directly generated by travel agents and of that figure how many purchase tour operator holiday packages? After establishing those statistics, do we analyze what percentage in monetary terms does this contribute to our overall tourism earnings?

How many visitors book through their flights through a consolidator or use accumulated frequent flyer miles to reach us? What percentage stay in registered hotels, villas, condominiums and other types of licensed accommodation and do we know how long the current average stay is?

Perhaps all these figures already exist, but in my 24 years here in Barbados involved in tourism, I have never seen them. It seems that this could be one of the most critical functions of the Barbados Statistical Service, who already have an attractive website, but sadly does not appear to be updated on a regular basis.

Without this vital information, it is difficult to understand exactly how intelligent and cost-effective strategies could be formulated by the planners and policymakers. If I am wrong, and this information is already in the public domain, then please share it with us, in a format that is easily accessible.

Many businesses, I would guess are presently attempting to evaluate the economics of the rapidly approaching end of the 2011/2012 winter season. Trying to ascertain, what if anything, we can afford to spend this summer to assist in maintaining occupancy and viability, while at the same time trying to retain as many staff as possible.

Few could not have noticed the full page ‘ads’ appearing in the local press bearing the headline ‘Tourism, who cares?’

As I include myself in that category, I proffered my comments on the same day as the first ‘ad’ was carried. Due to technical glitches we were told in subsequent ‘ads’, early contributors were invited to resubmit their comments, which I did twice, but still did not receive an email confirming receipt. There was already a very short response window, just 12 days, even if everything had been functioning properly.

While I fully endorse the objectives behind the concept, I believe it was a huge mistake not to involve our visitors at this stage. The ‘ad’ could so easily have been replicated in a smaller version and given to accommodation providers for placement in every room.

Our visitors already have a very limited opportunity to make their views known to our tourism policymakers, and this could have provided such an invaluable feedback.

Any guests that may have stumbled across the ‘ad’, just might have drawn the conclusion that their opinions are not valued. And if the recent pronouncement ‘that Barbados as a brand is not meeting all the expectations of its customers’ by the BTA Chairman is correct, then surely its even more important to listen very carefully to the areas where we are not performing to the standards anticipated.

Adrian Loveridge

Editor’s note: BFP ran a spelling checker on this article and consolidated a few short paragraphs. BFP created the title “Government should share tourism research… whatever there is of it.” Other than spelling, format and the title, we didn’t change a word.

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