DLP Government’s tourism ‘solution’ too little, too late for an industry in crisis

Barbados tourism industry feeling the pressure, taking undeserved flak from know-it-all politicians

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

For the first few days of her reign, Patricia Affonso-Dass (photo above courtesy of The Nation), the newly elected President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, perhaps concluded that she had joined a battle and was undergoing a Baptism of Fire. If many of our policymakers took the effort to better understand the tourism industry, they would have been more guarded with what I thought were in some cases rather unfair comments.

Tourism is a lot more, of course, than about a bunch of hoteliers, but often it is those same people who sacrifice freely, enormous amounts of otherwise quality and productive time with their families and businesses, while endevouring to make a positive difference.

Two years of attending endless meetings, attempting to juggle with all the vested interests and egos and so often without the resources that other entities seemingly take for granted. And they do this without all the perks, benefits and salaries others receive, including politicians, who in some cases can retire at fifty years of age with a taxpayer pension for life.

Sadly, most of the contentious remarks played out in Parliament and the media could have been entirely avoided with better communication and if the ruling party are seriously considering the possibility of re-election, they may wish to address this issue.

Like any trade association, the BHTA is there to represent its members who contribute significant annual subscription fees, which in a time of eroded profits, inflation apparently out of control and other escalating operational costs, have to be justified like any other expense.

I have no doubt many in the industry, consider that ‘we’ as a destination are now in crisis.

You only have to do a little price comparison on the internet to see the amazingly high level of discounting going on in most of our markets, which some concede is the only practical way of keeping the doors open.

While, the $5 million additional funds granted to the national marketing agency in the recent budget is welcome, frankly it is a drop in the ocean and arguably too little too late. Again, reflecting the abysmal level of information dissemination between the private and public sector, the majority of the players have no idea how these monies will be spent, or if they simply will evaporate and be used to pay all the yet unfulfilled financial obligations.

In my short time on the BTA board, Return on Investment (ROI), was a frequently used phrase, but this seems to have gone out of the window in more recent times. The current level of anticipated return, seems dismally low. $5 million carefully and creatively deployed, should produce, in my humble opinion, $100 million in earned revenue.

As to the merits of yet another small and medium size hotel refurbishment fund: Unless access to these funds are simplified and available to all our registered properties, the danger is that this new proposed equity scheme will become just more smoke and mirrors. If you just address our small hotels, of which we have around 120, providing roughly 2,500 rooms, that’s an average of $20,000 per room to upgrade, before allowing for public areas like swimming poools, landscaping etc.

Not surprisingly then, the overall amount of $50 million is being questioned.

Tax moratorium doesn’t undo the damage already done to the tourism industry

And finally: the moratorium for two periods on land taxes is very welcome… but why now when the damage has already be done with the last 50 per cent increase?

BFP editor’s note: Barbados Free Press created the title and subtitles for this piece and changed some of the paragraph breaks. We also inserted the BHTA President’s name and made some very minor sentence structure changes. Other than that, the piece was printed as received from Adrian Loveridge.

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51 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

51 responses to “DLP Government’s tourism ‘solution’ too little, too late for an industry in crisis

  1. R.C.

    Good day. I am involved in Tourism and I work very hard to survive without any handouts. Over the years I have seen one property with which I was associated survive and do you know why? There were five blocks of rooms on the property and every year during the Summer the owners would close a block and completely refurbish it. So every five years they had a relatively new plant. The C.E.O. changed her car every ten years and has lived in the same home over 30 years and her kids went to school here.

    Quite a few of the Hoteliers who are complaining about hard times and blaming this Government have never upgraded their properties. They send their kids overseas to study, they go on shopping trips to Miami, they go on cruises, they replace their homes, cars and personal furniture every couple of years and then wonder why no one returns to their tired properties and eat at their jaded restaurants.

  2. rastaman

    @RC :You sure you are not talking about the politicians?

  3. 249

    Why are you always pushing articles from this imbecile of a failed hotelier Adrian Loveridge?

    If he was so incompetent that he ran his own hotel into the ground, who needs advice from him, unless they want a course in how to wreck your own business?

  4. LOL

    Loveridge is a FAILED HOTELIER??

    he may be white, and I can see the hate in your comment
    but he is certainly NOT a failed hotelier!

  5. what will they think of next

    Too many hotels in Barbados are owned by beggars not by business people, that is why they are in “crisis”.

  6. Jason

    I believe that Loveridge once announced at Barbados Underground that he had never taken so much as a dollar from the government for funding his hotel. Is that still true, Mr. Loveridge?

    I always thought that Peach and Quiet ran as a profitable establishment and was always close to fully booked in the high season.

    Wat says Mr. Loveridge?

  7. what will they think of next

    How come Accra Beach Hotel is not in “crisis”?

  8. Jubilate

    I checked out the price of tickets for Wimbledon Final this week, changing hands at a cool $6,200:00 apiece, I won’t be going anytime soon.

    But, by way of perspective in a wacky world, this week also saw the sale of Constable’s painting “The Lock” for $76,000,000. , the most expensive bottle of Champagne sell for $35,000 in Paris and a hockey star sign a ten year contract for $103,000,000.

    When the average yearly wage of a worker in India is $2,500 and people are existing in Saharan Africa on less than a dollar a day I begin to wonder, if indeed, the world has gone completely bonkers.

    Then will someone please remind me that the best things in life are truly the things that are free: the gift of good health, of old and trusted friendships, the beauty of an evening sunset, the joy of a newly born grandchild and the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.

    Such things, compared with the other wonky stuff, help to put us back on an even keel and know that “with God in His Heaven all will be right in His earth.”

  9. victor

    Whether or not Adrian’s business is working for him, he is one of the only people on this blog who makes sense on this matter.
    On a different subject, I have recently been trying to organise my next trip to Barbados and having to cut corners, tried to arrange a less expensive place to stay. The landlady must be nuts. Her property has been sitting empty for ages yet she has quoted a price over that of the much better property I was renting before! Everybody is strapped for cash, landlords and visitors included yet why kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Why, when the tourist industry is going to hell in a handcart, don’t landlord’s do what visitors do, which is try to adjust? I’ll be coming but for only half the time I usually visit, at my usual place and my putative landlady will be left with an empty flat. It would never cross my mind to stay in an all-inclusive resort, often owned by foreign companies. I usually come to Barbados for 3 or more months, spending around $500/week apart from rent, on food, etc. On top of that, I go to restaurants, buy things, take taxis. Every cent I spend goes into the local economy. I’m lucky to be able to afford to spend about 6 months a year in Barbados but I am not rich and Bajans should realise that every visitor is not a “cash cow” to be milked. That mindset has to change from the government downwards. Clinging onto the idea that tourism is the only income stream is so obviously foolish. When that income sector is in financial difficulty, revenue dries up. How can any government budget for the future if it relies on such a volatile revenue stream?

  10. what will they think of next

    I think you have too much time on your hands now that your little is closed for good.

  11. Manchester

    Victor, I know what you mean. We always enjoyed Barbados but the prices are in outer space compared with the South of Spain or Portugal in the Spring. Spain has seen an interesting transition in the last three or four years. They were unfriendly to Brits for the longest time but lately it’s as if someone received the message that the tourists were leaving (as they were). There is a noticeable change in Spain and it happened within a short time of only a year. Spanish tourism workers changed their culture from uninterested passive / hostile to can’t wait to help. It’s uncanny!

    A week in Spain is about 1/2 to 1/3 the price of a holiday at a similar establishment in Barbados.

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    Jason,

    Absolutely right, not a single cent.
    Even my BTA Director fees were given over to a charity.
    If we were to re-open in December, we are already over 50 per cent booked for winter.
    Perhaps ‘what will they say next’ who purports to work for Accra explain why they took TIRF (taxpayer) funds if they didn’t really need them?

  13. Nostradamus

    @what will they think of next
    ……..explain why they took TIRF (taxpayer) funds if they didn’t really need them?”

    Well we are waiting on your response.

  14. an observer

    @ what will they think of next – I have no idea what “axe you have to grind” with Adrian Loveridge but I suspect that it is racially motivated. If you have nothing positive to say, kindly refrain from posting period. You are obviously an unhappy misguided individual.

  15. TWWIFOS

    @an observer

    +1

  16. what will they think of next

    They took taxpayers money to use use for the intended purposes. It was not used to buy BMW’s for the hotel owner to drive around in looking pretty, it was not used to add more rooms onto the the owners already Palatial homes, it was not used to take trips around the world, it was not used to buy another yacht to anchor opposite Parliament in the careenage, it was not used to stash in overseas bank accounts, it was not for the owners children to go university in England, It was used for correct and proper purposes.
    It was used for the intended purposes.
    That my friends is why Accra Beach Hotel is not in “crisis”.

  17. Catch as catch can

    @what will they think of next

    So Accra Beach Hotel took government money? So they are not self supporting like Peach and Quiet then?

    That’s interesting considering your blathering about Accra this, Accra that for the past year. Each of their guests was subsidised to whatever extent (divide the number of guest nights into however much they took and you’ll arrive at the figure.)

    How much tax dollars did they take then? Was it a gift or a loan? This puts a little different perspective on Accra Beach Hotel. Obviously it’s not in the same self-supporting class as P&Q then!

  18. Captain's Chips & Fish

    Accra is a well run hotel. The rooms are clean and the staff is friendly and attentive. We would go back but we are busy with the Olympics. (have a chips shop) See you in the Fall.

  19. Adrian Loveridge

    Catch as you catch can,

    What a wonderful response. You also may like to ask ‘What will they say next’ – have ANY employees at Accra been laid-off or had their working hours reduced. Its time people starting telling the truth?

  20. what will they think of next

    I can answer you Adrian, how many Hotels in any part of Barbados that you know of that constantly out book guests?
    how many hotels in Barbados that you know of where staff work six and sometimes seven days a week?
    How many hotels that you know of in Barbados where the occupancy on days of the week exceed 100%?
    Now you tell me!!!

  21. what will they think of next

    Catch as catch can, dont be an ass, all business need capital injections at some time. the difference is that the beggar hoteliers take the funds and squander them on themselves and their families and dont use them on the their properties or for marketing or any other useful intended purposes.
    Then they go cap in hand back to the Govt for more safe in the knowledge that jokers like Adrian and house niggas like colin jordan will support them.

  22. TWWIFOS

    @what stupid thing will I say next
    have ANY employees at Accra been laid-off or had their working hours reduced?

    More Blah….Blah….Blah…., but you didn’t answer the question.

  23. what will they think of next

    TWWIFOS, i think you want someone to spoon feed you, but it wont be me.

  24. Adrian Loveridge

    what will they say next,

    Truth is such a stranger to you. With a 100 per cent occupancy, why would you take, some may under false pretences, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers Dollars. Just remind us again, who the shareholders are of Accra and where they come from?

  25. Adrian Loveridge

    Tourism Investment Relief Fund (TIRF)
    Accra Beach Hotel

    04.06.2009 – $535,508.00
    18.11.2009 – $307,714.96

    Peach and Quiet (Barbados) Ltd – 0

  26. CuriousBaje

    For those who check Trip Advisor and think that this company is a worthwhile source, these poll ratings are very interesting.

    Please note that I have only looked at these three properties because in the last few tourism articles they were referred to.

    Based on these results, anyone trying to discredit or criticise the owner of Peach & Quiet for his style of business or knowledge of the hotel industry, is obviously sadly mistaken. What is worth taking into consideration, is the fact that Peach & Quiet has no flare besides the actual hotel, there is no shopping, no sports clubs, no fast food restaurants and no night clubs in close proximity, it has gained positive results from offering top service and clean rooms.

    Accra Hotel (146 rooms) – Excellent 29.18 % / Very Good 39.18 % / Average 15.67 % / Poor 11.08 % / Terrible 4.86 %

    Crane Resort (232 rooms) – Excellent 68.82 % / Very Good 18.82 % / Average 2.94 % / Poor 5.88 % / Terrible 3.5 %

    Peach & Quiet (22 rooms) – Excellent 79.6 % / Very Good 14.64 % / Average 2.4 % / Poor 2.4 % / Terrible 0.63 %

    This poll surely indicates that a full hotel does not mean satisfied customers only, it could mean that they have a facility that the others don’t offer.

    Adrian if you do not reopen this coming season, you will be sadly missed as you evidently know how to keep your guests VERY happy and as they say there is no better advertising that contented guests or clients.

  27. what will they think of next

    Why dont you learn to read properly and stop cherry picking what others are saying.
    No wonder you are always in trouble.

  28. what will they think of next

    Dont fool him he wont be missed. Plus his wife is always rude to guests, telling them what they can and can not get.

  29. CuriousBaje

    Cherry picking, always in trouble, not sure who that is directed at..

    His constructive critisum and input will be missed and so will his high ratings on trip advisor..not sure of hs wife don’t know her

  30. eleemosynary

    I no longer live in Barbados. I have no idea what Accra hotel looks like or where it is located. I do not know Adrian Loveridge nor do I know the Prime Minister or much about the political parties. I however have a sense of the people of Barbados because I was born Barbadian.

    I become somewhat angry, upset and also saddened when I listen almost on a daily basis to the likes of Adrian who thinks that the Government of Barbados should be doing more for the Hotel industry- and I really hope Adrian is making the connection that the Government of Barbados is really the people of Barbados.

    I remember ten years ago on a trip to Barbados that I could not just drive into the Sandy Lane Hotel and sit at the bar without first getting permission from the guard who managed the gate. My first thought was things haven’t change in Barbados. The experience took be back as a kid to the 1970’s of “taking” grass clippings from the golf course at the Sandy Lane Hotel to prepare the cricket pitch for our weekend cricket. We needed to climb the fence and go through the back route to get the “thrown away” grass clippings. As kids we could not ride our bicycles down the main road and swing into the main entrance to the golf couse to get the thrown away clippings. It was just not acceptable. Ten years ago I could not just drive my car into this Hotel without again being impeded by a guard.

    On my visit ten years ago, I also wanted to peek in at Port St. Charles and again there was this exclusivity; this behavior which told me I was not welcomed. I also had these same feelings as I drove along the West coast that most of these hotels did not offer a welcome mat to locals.
    Nothing has changed; actually I am incorrect one thing has changed. It is the begging mentality of Hotel owners who now want to tell the people of Barbados you are not being a good partner in our investments although your returns will be zero.

    Hotel owners you have made an investment in an industry which you were sure would give you a better return than putting your money into a savings account. In every investment there are risks; please don’t expect the people of Barbados to make your investment risk free. Barbadians like you also want to own a car and eat a meal at your exclusive hotels. Allow their kids to go to good schools and have proper health care. Don’t encourage the government to burden Barbadians with more taxes so you can keep your life style.

  31. what will they think of next

    I am getting the feeling here that some are bitterly disappointed that at least one Hotel in Barbados is doing well and is not in “crisis” as Adrian is trying boldly to mislead the public is the case in Barbados.

    With friends like Adrian who needs enemies.

    When he goes he will not be missed. Trust me on that one. These English people think they know everything and yet England is in a mess. How do you explain that?

  32. Adrian Loveridge

    CuriousBaje,

    THANK YOU.

    To the others, It may appear the hoteliers are constantly moaning and I am sure some do. But I have a passion about this industry and KNOW we can do better. I have also been refused entry to Sandy Lane Hotel and up to recently, I knew the Resident Manager. Its their policy to protect and safeguard their guests including the very high profile ones that spend enormous amounts of money.

    We have NEVER asked any Government for handouts, soft loans of TIRF monies. We have always paid all due taxes, our suppliers and have tried very hand to support local small businesses and entertainers. In many respects I believe we have been model corporate citizens. My contributions are intended to take the industry forward where I know it COULD be and that would benefit all Barbadians ultimately.

    We drive a Suzuki, have not taken a salary in 24 years and still even when the hotel is closed are working 12 hours a day/ 7 days a week to maintain the property.

    I don’t feel I have to apologise to anyone.

  33. rastaman

    Just curious Adrian,”If you haven’t taken a salary in 24 years ,” how do you live in Barbados and pay your bills?I really need to know your secret.

  34. eleemosynary

    Adrian, One final comment. Your message about Sandy Lane is just what I am concered about. You cannot expect Barbadians to be excluded from the industry under the premise or pretense that hotels are protecting their customers and then on the other hand say to Barbadians, ‘give us your full support with your money and service”. It is unreasonable and a bad example for any country to create this sort of class system where there are only certain people that can benefit from the services. These types of systems create real animosities between the visitor and the locals. The animus is shown in the quality of service as locals develop a real disdain for tourist. This same attitude created many issues in Australia and Africa. Instead of supporting Sandy Lane in its behavior towards locals, I think you and the goverment should make an effort to have these type of barriers removed. I always think as an outsider that Barbados would do a lot better if hotels saw Barbadians as a viable market and promoted their services to them.

  35. John

    When Tiger Woods got married in Barbados the whole ABC highway was shut down by the GOB to allow him to travel to the airport when he and his wife (errrr…….now ex wife) left.

    Talk about road rage!!!!!

    The rich and famous get preferential treatment wherever they live in the world ………. and even Governments dish it out.

    That’s just how it is.

    Try getting into a Sandals in Jamaica!!!!

  36. Mad as HELL!

    “Tourism Investment Relief Fund (TIRF)
    Accra Beach Hotel
    04.06.2009 – $535,508.00
    18.11.2009 – $307,714.96”

    So in a five month period in 2009 Accra Beach Hotel took almost a million dollars of tax-payer money? What was done with this money? How much did the owners of the hotel take out in profits or salaries that year? My oh my!

    Almost a million of our tax dollars fed into a privately owned business. Who owns this place? How are they related to any politician? Does the public get to see their books now? For a million bucks the taxpayers should be able to see where the money went.

    How many employees did they have in 2009? How many in 2010 after the million dollar injection? Did the staff get raises? How was the million dollars used? Did it just pay off old debts and cover past profit takings by the owners?

    For a million dollars in tax payer money I want some answers.

    Unfortunately we don’t have Freedom of Information laws or any accountability at all.

    I want to know who owns this hotel and who made the decision to GIVE a million of our tax dollars. What criteria was used? How many other hotels were given money and which hotels were refused?

    What garbage!

    A million dollars an then ‘what say next’ claims it is a well run viable business! Stupse.

  37. clicky duck

    @eleemosynary,

    Where is your home? I’d like to hang out there because it is in my country. You may own the property privately but using your logic I have a right to use the property. List your address here and I’ll be right over with the gang to party.

    Thanks.

  38. What will those idiots do next?

    Government increased business property taxes by 50% in a recession and now they are crying that the tourism industry is in trouble?

    Freundel Stuart and Sinckler are rather stupid, aren’t they?

  39. Adrian Loveridge

    Rastaman,

    We just take expenses. We are taxed on the benefit of living on the premises at around $28,000 a year. I firmly believe that ANY business (hotel or not) that receives taxpayer subsidies should lodge their audited accounts on record to enable anyone to view them. Of course this may never happen and GEMS (Hotels and Resorts Ltd) are a classic example. The taxpayer has yet to see where the monies of the sale of Eastry House and Silver Rock went to.

  40. CuriousBaje

    Please read the entire comment before getting heated and jump on this donkey.

    No one wants to spend money to stay in a tired and run down hotel and if no one stays at these hotels, there will be no one to spend money anywhere on the island. It’s time that we stop thinking that the hotel industry is a drain and realize that it is a stepping stone to the majority of businesses on the island.

    Taxi drivers will not have money for the supermarket, the car washer no taxi’s to wash. The shop stewards no jobs as the average Bajan who believes he is not employed in tourism (though everyone is either directly or in directly) as the customer will have no money to spend in their shops etc…etc.

    It is in the interest of ALL Barbadians that the hotel plant returns to what it was. With that being said, I am by no means advocating that we throw bad money after bad money. What I am suggesting is that we as BAJANS select a knowledgeable committee (not people that do not have a clue) to oversee the restoration of this industry, the refurbishment of our Attractions and most of all…the implementation of a true customer awareness programs for ALL Bajans. I have spoken to so many people that do not understand how the tourist dollar filters through every sector in the island and what damage tourist arrivals will have on the entire society.

    We can spend millions on advertising, we can be registered as a World Heritage Site but if we don’t have a great product when the guests arrive here it is all in vein.

    No I do not know it all but what I do know is, that the people in the position of turning this industry around seem lost.
    Have a GREAT day.

  41. eleemosynary

    Clicky duck, Very amusing and just fun to read your comment. I would love to in-vite you to my place so you would not be deemed a tres’pass-er. Now don’t be intransigent please check out the legality of being an invitee and a trespasser as it relates to hotels and private homes. Enjoy your homework over a wonderful dish of flying fish.

  42. CuriousBaje

    @ eleemosynary

    As you are in a humorous mood I have sent the below link to show you that you too can enter Sandy Lane as a Bajan…at a cost that I myself cannot afford LOL.

    http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=h5madceab&v=001gitP1NKQiAIZg9AXIcEv93YShtZI4uRdlUGpNiTsTubgYtcplhGdg4f8NrtuReNZVNK0yVbj40Nggwum9mUa3dBU0Jdio2Jwh5n-V87tTqgAwy9xIsG-yg%3D%3D

  43. yatiniteasy

    Is it not true that Accra Hotel is 100% owned by Trinidadians? Not that I have anything against that, after all , they own the biggest food, drug, and automobile distribution network in Barbados, not to mention Consolidated Finance and other businesses including majority shares in the failed Almond and struggling Casuarina hotels.
    Why did the Barbados Government give Accra (a 100% Trini owned Hotel) close to 1 million dollars in 2009. This is outrageous!
    Why don`t we just give up and fly the Trinidadian flag?

  44. what will they think of next

    You really think people are idiots.
    You have your little inn up for sale at the ridiculous price of $9million.
    Now lets see, you claim that you have not had a salary in 24 years(which i dont believe) but for argument sake lets just say that might be correct and thats a big might be.
    If some one is dumb enough to give you $9million let us divide that by 24 that will give $375,000.00 per year of salary. then divide that by 12(months) that would give $31,250.00 per month. So you are paying yourself at the end of your working shift instead of taking a salary month by month. Smart Adrian!!

  45. rastaman

    @What will they think of next: You are obviously NOT an Accountant.Sounds just like the Central Bank Governor.and Min Sinclair.

  46. what will they think of next

    I wonder how much he paid for the place when he first bought it.
    $10,00.00, $20,00.00?

  47. TWWIFOS

    More Blah….Blah….Blah…..

  48. Maine

    @ what will they think of next.. For someone itelligent, you are cruel. labelling all the negatives and no positives. I do believe you are a puppet, someone pulls your strings..Adrian Loveridge has been working a well known hotel in Barbados for well over 20 yrs. He started his business here when you were a teeny bopper. or perhaps in diapers. id have a little repect and gratitude to someone, who helped created the standrard of living for this island over the past 20+ years. please dont think the sugar idustary supplied that..

  49. Maine

    intelligent* standard* industry* for all you wannabe english teachers!!

  50. poor blackman

    Adrian you must excuse the literacy in the country i know how hard you work i see it and they are all anti white they are sported by government.

  51. Adrian Loveridge

    poor blackman,
    Isn’t is sad. I started bringing groups to Barbados in 1969 and it is the longest I have lived anywhere in the world. It is almost ironic that the only overt (and identified) racism that has been aimed at me, has been do so by people with a strong political agenda.