American Airlines / US Airways merger could be good for Barbados tourism – but only if the Barbados Tourism Authority performs

beverly nicholson-doty tourism

“The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression.”

“The Caribbean also saw its largest number of stayover visitors in five years, with the region’s overall hotel occupancy increasing by more than seven per cent and room revenues up by nearly nine percent.”

“About 25 million tourists visited the Caribbean last year, a more than 5 per cent increase from 2011. Its a growth rate that outpaced the rest of the world.”

Beverly-Nicholson-Doty, Caribbean Tourism Organisation Chairperson

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

These and other equally encouraging statements were recently uttered by Beverly-Nicholson-Doty, chairwomen of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. To the majority of the Minister’s of Tourism within the Caribbean, it must be like hearing pleasurable music in their ears.

Sadly, not to Barbados where instead of recording an almost 6 per cent growth in 2012, we experienced a 5.5 per cent fall in long stay visitor arrivals – a near 11 per cent differential. Any newly elected Government must consider the reasons behind this dismal performance as an imperative before more hotels close, further lay-offs occur and remaining airlift is further eroded.

Also interesting is the tourism spend in the Caribbean for 2012 which was estimated at US$27.5 billion a increase of 3.6 per cent over the previous year and the third successive year of increases. This again seems to buck the trend on Barbados where the overwhelming opinion across the industry is that average spend is down.

I was frankly amazed at the absence of dialogue and solutions on the current crisis in tourism leading up to the general election. Perhaps highlighted by when the moderator on the popular Down to Brass Tacks Sunday programme admitted that no-one from the sector’s trade association was available to participate.

Barbados Tourism Authority rejects a viable proposal: Second Cities 

Subject to regulatory approval, it would appear that the planned American Airlines/US Airways merger will take place. While there have been some reservations voiced concerning the possibility of increased fares and curtailment of certain routes and/or cities served, my own view is that it will be largely beneficial for Barbados.

Back in November 2001, I proposed a promotion concept to the BTA and BHTA entitled Second Cities. The objective was to maximise the load factors on the then direct nonstop US Airways service between Philadelphia and Barbados by targeting at the best and/or shortest connections.

I did extensive research: crossing the US border at Niagara and personally driving through New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to gauge the demographics. My proposal included a combined BHTA/BTA roadshow and sales blitz in the selected cities. A media and travel travel trade campaign would also run at the same time to help maximise provincial reach and awareness by inviting both travel agents and travel writers on familiarisation trips to experience our destination first hand.

Sadly, like so many other ideas, it was never adopted or implemented, but maybe its time to look at this concept again once new flight schedules are announced by the combined carriers.

It is a shame that we lost the Dallas/Fort Worth route as this is one of the hubs that would have principally helped us – perhaps more than others. Hopefully someone is working in the background to see what additional potential can be harnessed from the merger.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

5 responses to “American Airlines / US Airways merger could be good for Barbados tourism – but only if the Barbados Tourism Authority performs

  1. “interesting is the tourism spend in the Caribbean for 2012 which was estimated at US$27.5 billion”
    Who benefits form this spending, is this disproportionate spending that reciprocate to the rich. Most people would think we all benefit from this spending false thinking at it best, These funds are dissipated to persons who have access to capital markets, prior equity and lines of credit which by any standard is lacking in industrious populations in the Caribbean.

  2. sith

    Keep in mind that Jamacia is a 1 hr and 15 min flight from Miami and Barbados is 3 hrs 30 mins. Tickets from Miamii to Jamacia return cost $317 and on the same dates to and from Barbados $677. A big enough difference to pull more people to Jamacia not to mention there are a large number of adds run on US tv for Jamacia and none that I can remember seeing for Barbados.

  3. dare we dream!

    Disband the BTA and give half the money to the private sector or those who are vested in Barbados tourism success, for four times the deliverables.

  4. 47

    The approach of giving the money to the industry stakeholders for them to directly manage and invest in their respective sector was tried in the 70s with the sugar plantations and we know the results of that…the owners of the plantations took the taxpayers money provided by the Barbados Development Bank, hid it in offshore bank accounts, let their plantations fall to ruin and defaulted on their repayment.

    That is how the BAMC became the default owners of over 50% of the agricultural land and cane fields,in Barbados.

    A lot of the then owners, mostly white, even left the island and migrated to New Zealand and Australia, after finding the “purer” England, Canada and the USA not quite as welcoming.

    Many hence returned to Barbados and reinvested some of the “stolen” money, but not in sugar, but rather in the then emerging foreign exchange sector of tourism, mainly in hotels, restaurants, guest houses, tour companies, attractions and duty free.

    Pray tell why would any right thinking government seek to repeat this drastic mistake and put money back in the hands of this lot?!

    History will surely repeat itself especially since it is a proven fact that just like they did when “King Sugar” ruled and they did not invest in their plantations and that led to their demise, they have not been investing in their hotels which is again leading to deteriorating plant and inferior accommodations – for which they are still charging top dollar!!

    Let them investing in themselves!!!

    Government should then consider matching every dollar THEY put in, but never again should the average Bajan of any colour have to bail out this traditionally favoured group!!

  5. dare we dream!

    Not certain of all the plantation shenanigans and games that have been played of which I am certain there were many, but it seems to me the Hotel industry was much stronger twenty to thirty years ago and growing before government stepped in.

    A dollar spent by government to a dollar spent by a private investor is actually a good Idea demonstrating that someone is prepared to risk their capital first and equally. The devil is always in the details of implementation and that always gets back to reputation.

    no more Harlequins please