Barbados national tourism marketing efforts yielded no growth in five years

Pray for cold weather in the UK, Canada and the USA, but not bad enough to disrupt travel!

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

With a little more than two weeks before the start of what may become one of the most defining tourism winter seasons in our recent history, many are left just to guess at what will happen.

Yes of course you can draw some comparisons with forward direct bookings, but with a heavy dependence on tour operator driven business for a high proportion of our hotels it is far more difficult to make any accurate predictions.

Clearly a number of factors have negatively affected the industry’s performance, and to put in perspective, I think it’s important to study the figures…

For the four years from, 2008 – 2011, we (Barbados), averaged 546,533 long stay visitor arrivals each year. In the previous four years, 2004 – 2007, the average was 558,632. Simply put, that’s a decline of nearly 50,000 visitors over the comparable periods.

Arguments could of course be made, and have in some quarters, that the average stay has increased – but without directly comparing this over a sustained period it is almost irrelevant.  And it becomes totally meaningless unless average spend has risen faster than the number of nights our accommodation offerings are occupied.

Certainly the steep reduction in arrivals from our largest market, the UK, would not have helped this equation. Without this critical information, it’s simply speculation about the overall performance of the industry and that does absolutely nothing to help devise meaningful solutions.

So perhaps, at least our winter destiny, might be in the hands of climatic conditions, with weather bad enough to stimulate travel, but not to disrupt it. Nor does the possibility of exceptionally cold spells in our source markets give us divine right to expect increased arrival numbers.

Without any coherent ‘national’ marketing campaign in place that directly converts destination interest into solid bookings at desirable rates, the industry is left to flounder on its own using any resources that it can individually muster to make a difference. Of course, an increasing number of tourism partners already practice this policy, preferring at least to try and control their own destiny.

Perhaps this is the direction we should be heading, as clearly the figures demonstrate there has been no real growth in tourism generated by national marketing efforts over the last five years. This is despite the significant funds that have been allocated to the agency responsible, and the introduction followed by the subsequent loss of new airlift which will further drive numbers down.

So what can ‘we’ do?

In the hope that climatic conditions will be on our side, everything must be done to raise the destination awareness to keep it ‘top of mind’. It’s OK to brag about the number of website hits and raising our profile, but if there is no call to action it’s almost impossible to justify the monies spent.

One of our larger all inclusive hotels is offering to travel agents, complimentary three night stays with additional nights at just US$45 per person per night until 15 December. We must use our empty beds and airlines seats now to influence not just the travel trade, but travel writers, group and incentive planners, sports organisers, wedding and honeymoon organisers and any other niche market that can influence and deliver visitors.

Of course there is a cost element involved, but just like an aircraft, once its taken off, you cannot sell the seat. The same applies to a vacant room after the night has passed!

Adrian Loveridge

21 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

21 responses to “Barbados national tourism marketing efforts yielded no growth in five years

  1. Jrjrjrjr

    Virgin are offering a new thing whereby a passenger can buy the empty seat next to them for £99. Why not sell it openly for cheaper than the regular fare thus filling all the empty seats. Over the last few years we have seen more and more empty seats .

  2. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2012 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    The People are getting smart and reading the internet and google.
    To see they dont want their funds to feed PONZI Barbados. Money not going to the people, but in the pockets of the BLP and the DLP and the lawyer of CLICO.
    People travel to hope some funds spent on their trip will reach the people of the lands they visit. Not Barbados, the more they spend the more the PARTIES keep and ask of more from the Natives ,
    Keep up the good work , dont come until its all fix and cleaned up,
    PM and AG have to go. But we do not wont Owen and Mia who got this Massive Fraud going. Vote them all out Will send a Message and Maybe a real true Lawyer will step up and a real DPP lawyer who is not paid off to look the other way.
    Make it happen people , let get back to the Island in the Sun

  3. PRAY FOR YOUR LEADERS

    Plantation Deeds………….oh what a pleasant dream you have described. One that I would love to experience but the REALITY is THAT AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN. There are plans a foot in this world of ours that are not in sync with the likes of you and me. So, if you have any sense, get down on your needs and beg God to grant the people of Barbados repentance.

  4. Please, no more lawyers.

  5. lawson

    what all carribean islands need to have to keep people coming is the 4 ssss sand sea sun and safety get the last one wrong and everyone will suffer from the hotel owner to the coconut vendor.

  6. wstraughn

    @ PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2012 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    Whether or not the tourists are getting smarter re: our local politics isn’t really the reason they’re not comming… they don’t live here so they could give two hoots what happens with their money providing they get good value for it. Perhaps they’re going to cheaper destinations… The economic situation isn’t back to normal in the U.K or the USA, so we get fewer people with less disposable income for holidays … and they’ll be looking to get the most for their limited dollars. Sometimes i hear Caribbean people/leaders calling for the USA to normalize their relations with Cuba… well I’d say don’t be in a big hurry for that to happen.. as it is likely to hurt tourism dependent islands considerably..

  7. what will they think of next

    You read what Farakan said?
    We are worth more than serving tourists every year.
    That will not go down too well with you while guys adrian.

  8. Konkieman

    Really, “what will they think of next”, and what exactly is that? Liming under an ackee tree? Look around you, bro, no industries left, so use our natural resources to built the country.

    And let go the racist crap, please. It is no excuse to success.

  9. what will they think of next

    ok, konkieman the only thing black people are good for is serving tourists?
    maybe that is why there are no more industries left, because the tourist crap is shove down their throats they wrongly believe that there is nothing else that they are capable of.
    and adrian loves it.

  10. what will they think of next

    i have worked i tourism for years, but i have never for a moment accepted that it is the only way for black people to go. As a matter of fact i have prevented my children from entering the field.

  11. LOOK

    Lack of tourism in Barbados and other Caribbean islands fell prey to a global weakened economy but the Terry Schwarzfeld and Colin Peter murders sparked international news. Barbados, additionally has stepped down several steps – desperately needs toning up. Although wounded by corruption in both the BLP and DLP, offenders of crime and a nonchalant judicial system is hurting it more.

  12. In these economic times people want their money to stretch as far as possible and that isn’t going to happen if you travel to Barbados. Lots of deals and packages advertised in the UK to keep people closer to home at cheap prices but still with the benefits of sun, sea and sand. Examples Canary Islands, some parts of Spain, African countries to name a few. Nothing good ever comes from ‘putting all your eggs in one basket’. Tourism should not be the only means of income for Barbados that is just plain stupid. And Barbadians need to remember and stop being ignorant to the fact that tourists doesn’t mean white. Treat all people equal and forget colour of a person’s skin and where you think they came from.

  13. michelle

    As a UK traveller to Barbados for the past 20 years, I have seen a steady decline in the landscape of the country. All these concrete condos have spoilt the beauty of the west coast in particular and the building work is quickly spreading through the south and east coasts. I do not stop in the big hotels that cost a fortune ad I firmly believe in supporting the smaller establishments. I never book a package -this is the tour operator way of ripping off tourists. I visit every other year and do not think the restaurants and bars are any dearer than at home and the service is always better in Barbados. I visit for the friendliness and accessibility of the place. I have noted an increase in crime over the years but have not been a victim -exercise the same caution as you would at home. Air fares from the UK are spoiling tourism for Barbados -I remember the time when you could pick up a flight for £300. Not any more -you’ll be hard pressed to get change out of £600 and why so dear in school holidays? I love the place -I always said I wouldn’t return to the same place twice but Barbados is the exception having visited 15 times. Stop the condo building, preserve the natural beauty and hospitality and petition for cheaper flights and you may get more visitors.

  14. lawson

    Barbados is like a woman who keeps having cosmetic surgery and botox injections forgetting what made her desirable in the first place

  15. 178

    konkieman, all black people are good for is running Barbados since 1966…JUST look where we are now. Stop your whining and step up you wimp.

  16. 178

    KONKIEMAN, a realist might correct my use of “running” and replace with “ruining”, what you think?

  17. 178

    Big apology here konkieman…I meant to address those remarks to “what will….next”, not you…please ignore and forgive, tx.

  18. lawson

    There is nothing demeaning about earning a living in the service industry.A large part of the gdp depends on that industry.However if you truly believe that tourists shouldnt be served and that the money they bring here is not needed. Wouldnt your time not be better spent teaching your children Trinidadian

  19. LOOK

    Barbados at moment relies on few things to support it, mainly tourism. Should consider other cash crops, maybe cotton and maybe a cotton mill. Makes more sense than Arthur’s idea of a Nigerian Water Heater project, 2.4 million dollars lost and unaccounted for.

  20. Credit is due

    Please give Barbados some credit. We know where our bread is buttered and we have survived in this tourism business for a long time. If we did not know what we were doing we would have supported the Palestinian bid to become a member of the UN. We bravely abstained when our Jewish friends said that if we supported the Palestinians our tourism would suffer.

  21. LOOK

    Tourism in Barbados we know have stepped down several steps, need toning up. The BLP will fix it. They, the BLP are now the fix it folks. “economy is a mess right now, we will fix it” says Arthur. They, the BLP will fix things. They will fix the economy, they will fix it. They will fix the national debt, they will fix it. They will fix CLICO, they will fix it.

    Barbados apparently is no longer a desired destination. The decline of tourism in Barbados is not a sudden onset issue but a continuous one. The United Nations says Barbados has lots of theft. Tourist perhaps have considered this and increasing crime. Terry Schwarzfeld and Colin Peter were tourist in Barbados and murdered there. Barbados has right to protect its borders, it does not have right to force sexual assault. It had right to detain the Shanique Myrie woman for illegal drugs and did so. The police though raped her without right. She, the Myrie woman committed crime. The police also committed crime. The The latter is much more distasting; the Caribbean Court of Justice [Barbados] agreed.