So many questions, so few answers. So little planning…
The Barbados Government’s Budget setting out the Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue for the financial year 2013/2014 lists that ‘a subvention of $101.7 million has been provided to the Barbados Tourism Authority to facilitate marketing and promotion’.
At first it seems a simple enough stated intent, but what does it really mean?
‘Marketing and promotion’. What will ultimately be spent on these two critical functions after all other expenses are taken out?
Salaries, per diem allowances, the much vaunted restructuring costs possibly including an allowance for severance, consultancy fees, lease payments on luxury SUV vehicles, recent office moving expenses, outstanding debts, overseas offices, depreciation, interest.
The list goes on and on.
Perhaps even more pertinent, will the whole budgeted amount even actually be available to the organisation? Or will they become cash starved again far before the end of the next financial year – contributing to another near devastating fall in arrival numbers?
Bearing in mind the fragile state of the industry, wouldn’t it also be wise to ensure that the private sector is fully informed of any recovery plans to ensure limited available resources from them is not squandered by duplicating efforts?
I recently saw a prediction that 2013 would end the year ‘flat’ in terms of arrivals, but that would mean a growth rate of more than 6.2 per cent this year alone, just to make up for the loss in 2012. And ‘a rise in tourism figures by the end of March 2014’ was also forecast.
Given that somewhere between 12 and 20 hotels are already up for sale, I seriously wonder how many more can economically hang on until even marginal viability returns.
During the budget debate the Minister Of Finance anticipated a 0.9 per cent growth in tourism during the financial year ending 31st March 2014. Is that enough to avoid further closures and lay-offs? That is on top of what so far has been a very disappointing peak winter season, compounded by a virtual moratorium on sustained marketing for several months.
Frankly, I have never been a great fan of predictions. I would rather rely on strategies and courses of action which incorporate a high degree of possible success – strategies that actually make things happen.
Also the figures when compared above start to confuse me. Yes of course there is a difference with a datical and fiscal year, but in this case they both possess three of the much higher yield critical winter months; January, February and March.
So a minimum 6.2 per cent increase in long stay visitors ‘to end the year flat’, but only ‘a 0.9 per cent growth in tourism’ during the financial year ending 2014. That 6.2 per cent would equate to enticing another 33,250 long stay visitors. So the question that should be asked is this: Based on current average stay and spend, would this equate to a 0.9 per cent growth?
Once again, we are left asking so many questions and obtaining so few answers.