Loveridge on Barbados election results: So many expectations, so little change

“We are currently facing an extended softer eight long summer months without any national marketing plan in place.”

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

I suppose you can put in down to my naivety, so long in coming, so many great expectations and then in hindsight, the reality of the situation. Almost 40 per percent of the eligible electorate chose not to vote, the status quo re-elected for a second term by a precariously small majority and just microscopic adjustments made to the governance of an industry in crisis.

At least, that seems to be the scenario so far.

Clearly there are plus points. Irene Sandiford-Garner, appointed as a Parliamentary Secretary in the re-configured Ministry and Tourism and International Transport, when many of us years later are still puzzling why the two bodies were ever separated in the first place. The Senator brings her abilities in marketing to the table just at a time when this discipline is needed more than ever.

Shadowing the Ministry is Santia Bradshaw. While I don’t want to diminish her abundant legal qualifications, I am far from convinced that we need or want any more lawyers involved in tourism policy making. But she is also an entrepreneur and after looking at her website, I was personally impressed with the high level of presentation. Hopefully she can add value and youthful objectivity to the sector from a constructive opposition stance.

“While the global recession and the dreaded APD tax have helped stifle growth in visitor arrival numbers, they are not the sole cause of our dismal performance in tourism.”

Now is the time for solutions.  

A line in the sand has been indelibly etched – to re-state what many of us have been saying for months. While the global recession and the dreaded APD tax have helped stifle growth in visitor arrival numbers, they are not the sole cause of our dismal performance in tourism. Now that this has been established beyond any reasonable doubt, it is time to move on and implement policies that will restore viability to the industry.

‘All the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying’ and a ‘5.4 per cent growth rate outpaced the rest of the world’.  These comments attributed to Chairwoman of the CTO, Beverly Nicholson-Doty when referring to statistics for 2012.

With Easter just over two weeks away, traditionally arrival volumes start to fall very soon after – which means we are currently facing an extended softer eight long summer months without any national marketing plan in place.

What really puzzles me, is that both Government and the BTA have failed to explain the fiscal challenges they are currently encountering honestly to the private sector. There has been this cloak of silence – while the public sector seems to enjoy this assumed comfort of continued employment, almost at any cost. But as we enter the shoulder season, thousands of tourism workers have genuine concern whether they will keep their jobs or have working hours severely reduced to dramatically lower living standards for them and their families.

Frankly, it has been an appalling job of public relations in keeping the private sector fully informed and ‘we’ should all learn from this.

Following the tragic events of 9-11, with all the then associated impending doom and gloom that threatened our number one industry, a meeting of key players in tourism was convened to brainstorm our options at that time. It was, in my opinion, one of the most productive meetings that I have attended in twenty five years.

Maybe, its time again, to put the politics aside and focus exactly how we are going to kick-start what fuels our economy.

7 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

7 responses to “Loveridge on Barbados election results: So many expectations, so little change

  1. 47

    It is interesting that Adrian does not comment on the reappointment of Richard Sealy as the Minister of Tourism.

    I think it would be fair to say that Sealy has been an abysmal failure as Minister, and this has been made worse by his constant failures at delivering almost anything promised from as far back as 2008 when he first took over.

    NO restructuring. NO Master Plan. NO White Paper. NO emphasis on sports and heritage tourism. NO Growth or any real growth and improvements in the industry.

    In fact everything seems to have contracted with LESS attractions. LESS restaurants, LESS Arrivals. LESS Air Capacity. LESS Hotel rooms. LESS hours per average hotel worker. LESS spend per visitor and of course less contribution to GDP.

    It is amazing to me that there has not been more of an outcry on Sealy’s reappointment, particularly at a time when as you correctly pointed out, the majority of the Caribbean’s tourism is trending upwards in the two most important areas, arrivals and average spend!

    Given its importance, surely someone else should have been given an opportunity as it is clear that the BTA has stagnated and the senior management needs change, as there are NO innovative or creative ideas coming out of the local BTA’s offices.

    If the Food and Wine and Rum Festival is all that the BTA could come up with in the last five years, the whole lot of them wants firing!

    Along with the Minister and Chairman!

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous, I agree with much of what you have said, but I think that I have pointed out the failings. The figures speak for themselves. Don’t you find it strange that the private sector trade body, the BHTA has not been more vocal? Leading up to the recent general election, I pointed out that the BHTA could not even supply one representative to voice collective opinions on the major call-in programme.

  3. Rastaman

    And remind me again who is the Chairman at the BHTA????

  4. Amber

    Why does the tourism sector need the BHTA or Government to come up with a plan? Surely there are many bright minds – who unlike those in power, actually know what’s going on? (Sorry) Can’t anyone come up with a plan? Surely you, Mr Loveridge, in your position are more qualified to think up ideas. Surely anyone in the sector can think of something feasible? You certainly are in the position to decide and implement, Mr. Loveridge, maybe not for all but don’t we all want to be the first out the gate?
    Sorry, I am not in that sector (disclaimer!) but I just don’t get why Government must make a decision when better qualified parties could do something – are all of your hands tied?

  5. millertheanunnaki

    @Amber March 11, 2013 at 10:22 pm
    “Why does the tourism sector need the BHTA or Government to come up with a plan? Surely there are many bright minds – who unlike those in power, actually know what’s going on?”

    So what role would the MoT & BTA play? How would the BTA justify the annual $92 million in taxpayers’ money?
    The role of the MoT and the BTA is to plan and take overarching responsibility for the tourism industry in Bim. The BTA also has an additional mandate of marketing Bim in overseas market. Now really you can’t market a product unless you have a plan.

    The other private sector players are to support the BTA in its efforts and to ensure that when tourists arrive here their dream vacation is realised.

    An important role by the players in the industry is to provide feedback from visitors to the BTA & MoT to inform and influence their planning and decision-making processes.

  6. Golden Goose.

    I just don’t want to live any more.
    Y’all were warned that you were killing me slowly.
    Now I’m in Intensive Care. Happy now?

    I’m on the way out.
    See ya!

  7. Amber

    Well currently they seem to be paying for commercials with Rihanna encouraging people to come to Barbados…. Whether that justifies $92M – Rihanna may not be charging them for her time, face, apparently $1M insured legs, but I doubt everyone else is giving freebies…

    But tell me, if they don’t do anything – should we just curl up under a rock and die? Or do we take charge… I doubt that paying for advertising is a job that can only be legally done through BTA… in fact, I think I’ve seen a few Youtube clips made by a random person holding Barbados in a good light… If you could just get those silly schoolchildren to stop displaying their arguments on Youtube… surely you could ‘sell’ your accomodations and the island to people in England, America, etc. on their channels….?

    Thank you for giving me the ‘job descriptions’ of the two parties, millertheanunnaki – but I still don’t see why they are needed. If they would do their job it would greatly benefit the sector, if they don’t then someone else step up to the plate…