Loveridge: Bajan government raised taxes, lowered revenues and ignored obvious tourism strategies

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Is the predicted 6 or 7 per cent fall in long stay visitors during the month of January directly as a result of reduced promotional expenditure by the national marketing agency and if so, has anyone put a dollar value on the consequential loss of tax revenue collected by Government?

Is this yet another example of a failed policy decision, as when Government increased the level of VAT, only to find the overall amount gathered, went down and not up. According to the CBB (Central Bank) from $683.4 million in 2011 to $666.6 million in 2012. A 6 per cent decrease in arrivals when compared to January 2012 would represent  3,157 less people and 7 per cent 3,683. Last January was already down over the previous year, albeit only by 0.8 per cent according to CTO figures.

What we should be asking is how much those missing thousands would have spent and is the current dearth of funds to the Barbados Tourism Authority actually costing the industry and the nation’s coffers more than we can imagine?

It doesn’t just end with tax collection, but has to take into account increased benefit payments due to lay-offs and reduced spending by those fully employed. And how will this also impact on overall occupancy levels during the critical four winter months and economy of scale and expense caused as a result of lower lodging levels? Of course these precious winter months also command the highest rooms rates, which in many cases helps the individual hotels limp through the softer summer period.

Are ‘we’ being pennywise and pound foolish?

A regular long stay Canadian visitor asked me why the BTA did not exhibit at the recently concluded Ultimate Travel Show held in Toronto. With a population approaching 6 million people in the Greater Toronto Area , all of which live within an hour’s drive of Pearson International Airport plus an BTA office in Canada’s largest city, I could not proffer an explanation. Given the climatic conditions, the time of the year and the falling arrival numbers it didn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Then looking through the exhibitors list and seeing many of our competitors  who obviously saw the value of attending the show, one has to ask “Why were ‘we’ not there at a national level?”

The only Barbadian representative was Swim Barbados Vacations.

From the region those who were present included Aruba, Belize, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Cuba, USVI, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, SVG and the Turks and Caicos. Of course its not feasible to be at everything, but could not some sort of collective presence with private and public sector partners be organised to avoid, what clearly appears another missed opportunity.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures and snow, provisional attendance numbers were over 12,000 persons according to Show Manager, Julie Miller. Clearly, the vast majority visiting the event, were there for the purpose of choosing a holiday. And just maybe they were influenced to book an alternative destination choice.

Ironically, a large BTA delegation went to the CHTA MarketPlace which took place days earlier in The Bahamas. With the obvious lack of promotional funds, perhaps this event was deemed more likely to be cost-effective than the one in Canada and could result in driving higher visitor numbers.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

7 responses to “Loveridge: Bajan government raised taxes, lowered revenues and ignored obvious tourism strategies

  1. tourism is not there to pay pay or to cover fraud, When the people stop coming we will see where see really stand.

  2. 192

    A L, you said above ” it didn’t seem to make any sense at all.” I have an explanation…the actions of mediocre thinkers (and that’s the kindest expression I can summon) and idiots (closer to the mark) rarely make sense at all. And there you have it. VOTE!

  3. X

    Former Minister Sealy is my MP; I’ll be holding him accountable on Feb 21.


    Why the ministers run from one word Audit? Pm David was doing such and remove UDC heads and NHC lawyer. Then to do the numbers on the rest of the govt before he died , We can fix nothing unless we agree to see the true numbers.So we can Blog day and night till the numbers come in.

  5. World Tourism up 3-4 per cent except for Middle East and Barbados?

    it’s been done thousands of times before

    kill the Golden Goose with an unwarranted tax grab to the tipping point and suffer the consequences.

    Click to access unwto_fitur_2013_fin_1pp.pdf

  6. sith

    I would suggest tthere are several reaons why long term stays are down. Reason number one would be the high cost of visiting Barbaods and that is especially true for young singles and families. They are going to to Mexico, Cuba, Dominican and other much more competiively prices destinations. So the young are not coming and the reutrning long term stays are getting older and older and older and a whole lot of them dying, so the dead ones are not coming back either. There is a natural shrinking going on of the long term stay visitor The correction has to be made in attracting the new generation of youger families to come. Price out the cost of a family of 4 going to Mexico or Cuba or the Dominican and then compare it to Barbados. When we can compete, then we have a chance. However there is going to have to be a lot of corrections made for that to happen including correcting the alignment of the Barbaods $ to world currencies.

  7. Rastaman

    @Sith: I love your comment”So the dead ones are not coming back either”.Could not have said a truer word.LOL