The magical world of Barbados government tourism statistics and expenditures

So many questions, so few answers. So little planning…

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

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.



Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

7 responses to “The magical world of Barbados government tourism statistics and expenditures

  1. bill

    Do you think they might make it to the Toronto Travel Show next year?

  2. just want to know

    Of course they will go, money, money in their pockets, taxpayers paying, but to what benefit? Maybe they will send Rihanna, she can show her pooch, which will draw the tourists ( LOL ).

  3. Check-This-Out


    Relax – tourists are coming soon.

    On April 13, Breakfast In Barbados “Toronto’s most famous trip giveaway.” will deliver close to 100 visitors, the 36 contest winners (and their partners), the CHUM crew, the 2 American artists and their bands performing at the concert, and of course some BTA reps.

    That should get the summer season of to a good start.

  4. Ronnie McGovern

    We first holidayed in Barbados in 1995 at Peach & Quiet and Adrian thought we ‘would be trouble’! But we loved it anyway, and after a spell away we came back to the island a few years ago and have been back twice a year since. Sadly unless things change ( or unless P&Q reopens!) we have decided not to come back, because frankly we get better value for our money elsewhere. We love the Bajan people – there are non nicer, but that is no longer enough. I see Barbados going the way of many of the popular British holiday places such as Spain, Greece etc where it has almost become ‘give us your money and go away’- ‘we don’t want to work for it, we just expect you to give it too us’. I have said it before but the price we paid for flights and accomodation for 2 weeks holiday in Barbados , in January this year, we could have travelled to The Cape Verde Islands, All inclusive, adults Only, TWICE for the same money. The people there are nice and friendly and see tourism as the way forward and are working for its development, and the weather is good!
    We have now booked to go to Nevis later this year and although I am really looking forward to going, it almost broke my heart not holiday in Barbados.
    The Government of Barbados and many hoteliers have lost touch with the reality of modern tourism. Thats why tourism is down in Barbados but up elsewhere in the Caribbean. If you went into a shop and the item you want costs $180 US today but tomorrow it will be $290 US, what would you think of the shop and would you still buy the item? – but thats what the hotels do and thats why they are losing out to other islands. Other islands have figured out that you can get away with some increase for peak periods, but not outrageous increases.
    As an aside I looked up the website of The Barbados Tourism Authority, and it seems the money is spent on maintaining a corporate image without actually doing anything.
    The best laugh I had today was this –
    The Barbados Tourism Authority’s functions are to promote, assist and facilitate the efficient development of tourism; to design and implement suitable marketing strategies for the effective promotion of the tourism industry; to make provision for adequate and suitable air and sea passenger transport services to and from Barbados; to encourage the establishment of amenities and facilities necessary for the proper enjoyment of Barbados as a tourist destination; to carry out market intelligence in order to inform the needs of the tourism industry; to register, license and classify tourist accommodation according to the standard of amenities provided; to register and classify restaurants catering primarily to tourists; according to the standard of cuisine and amenities provided; to register and regulate such forms of service for tourists as the Minister determines; and to do such other things that in the opinion of the Authority would facilitate the proper discharge of its functions or would be incidental or conducive thereto.
    I have NEVER seen an advert for Barbados tourism either in the press or TV. We get most major newspapers and travel magazines, we look at travel websites and NOTHING exists about promoting Barbados. So what do they do?
    Adrian does not like predictions and neither do I, so keep an eye on airline flight/seat availability. When they start reducing seats or flights then major trouble is brewing.

  5. Jack Bowman

    Mr. Adrian Loveridge worries, tediously often, about “airlift” and “rack rates” and Bim government subsidies to a declining Barbados tourism business (or, as he would say, oddly, the island’s “tourism product”)

    And he does it, tediously often and always without making the slightest effort at acknowledgement of his publishers’ opinions, ever, on a well-known Bajan blog that’s famous for publishing the following opinions:

    Barbados Underground

    Rape is fun, you really must try your hand at it
    BAFBFP at Barbados Underground

    He’s still doing that in a context wherein Bajan rape is somewhat in the news.

    Ya got ma bawlin, baffy in Barbados, rape is fun. Er, lol.

  6. Peter Quinlan

    Good comment, Adrian. You (as well as me) often wonder if the BTA are ‘asleep at the wheel’ as they don’t seem to reply to any e-mails (or the telephone, for that matter). Case in Point: I live in Newfoundland, Canada, and for some unknown reason I cannot have Barbados Travel Literature sent this way because the BTA does not even recognize Newfoundland as a Canadian Province (check out their website). Unbelieveable. After repeated attempts to change this still nothing has happened. Very funny (& strange) since the BTA’s represenative for Atlantic Canada (John Cavill, out of Halifax) was notified about this 3 years ago & still nothing. And they wonder why Canadians (especially Atlantic Canadians) travel to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico & the biggest destination Florida in droves, and the numbers of Canadians visiting Barbaods continues to plummet. Boggles my mind….

  7. sith

    The high cost of tourism in Barbados is related to a inadequate monetary system for the times that we live in. The Barbados dollar is simply not worth the exchange rate of two Barbados dollars to one US Dollar. As tourism declines so will foreign exchange reserves putting things on a collision course with reality which will be a shortage of foreign exchange to pay the import bill. When that day arrives, the island will be foreced to become more competitive and no doubt will see a lower valued Barbados dollar.