Monthly Archives: June 2013

Have Barbados tourism decision-makers simply given up?

Unfortunately the recent bad news in tourism is only exceeded by more bad news.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

The bad news is that long stay visitor arrivals have declined in each and every single month over the last consecutive fourteen months. The good news is that in May, the fall was the lowest in that entire period with just 29 less arrivals than the corresponding month last year.

With the end of the only national marketing initiative, Barbados Island Inclusive, we are back again in this massive vacuum of marketing uncertainty. The non tour operator dependent hotels will now be scrabbling around to see what, if any, additional funds they can spend on promoting their properties.

Up until the end of May we were already 16,151 long stay visitors down when compared with the same period in 2012,  and that year was down by 31,421 over 2011.

Some tourism policymakers are predicting that we (Barbados) will end the year ‘flat’ and hopefully that will be proven right. But sadly, the odds are overwhelming against it.  Arrivals would have to average almost  50,000 people each month for the rest of 2013. Especially when you think we have not reached above this target in four out of five months this year, and those included our peak winter months.

Clearly, there appears to be this unscalable wall to any attempts in influencing change in the way we are attempting to do business.

It’s almost as if those in decision-making positions have simply given up.   Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Finding Dave Ames’ hidden assets: in Thailand!

Thailand Harlequin Resort Ames

Thailand asset hunt helps secure Asset Freezing Court Order against Dave Ames

Did Richard Haughton hide cash for David Ames?

Primary amongst the big questions asked by fleeced Harlequin investors is “Where did all that money go?”

Thailand-based investigative journalist Andrew Drummond believes he might have found the trail to some of the missing assets – in Thailand companies associated with Richard Haughton, a friend and business partner of David Ames.

How likely is it that when Harlequin took some £500 million in cash that the silver-tongued Ames didn’t squirrel some of that away for himself? Not likely, most folks would say – and Thailand looks good for some of it.  Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Consumer Issues, Offshore Investments

Should the Barbados Tourism Authority shut down operations in the United States?


“Dollar for dollar, advertising in overseas markets was proven to generate a higher return on investment than the United States.”

… Canadian Tourism Commission VP talks about cancelling advertising in the USA

Return on Investment lacking for BTA’s efforts in the USA

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Last month the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Crown corporation that acts as a national tourism marketing board for that country, announced that it was going to stop advertising in the United States.

I am sure it took many by surprise.

The Ottawa Sun seemed to capture the spirit behind the decision with a bold headline screaming ‘Ottawa no longer wants to waste time and money trying to lure American tourists to the land of moose, mountains and Mounties’.

At first this decision appears to defy any logic – to ignore an immediate neighbour with nine times your own population, a staggering  316 million potential visitors on your doorstep. Among the justfying reasons were that the typical US visitor spent, on average, only US$518  per trip to Canada last year – the lowest amount spent by any international visitor group. By contrast tourists from Brazil spent an average of US$1,874 per trip.

Canadian Tourism Commission vice-president of strategy and corporate communications, Paul Nursey, stated ‘Dollar for dollar, advertising in overseas markets was proven to generate a higher return on investment than the United States’. Since 2000 the share of tourism industry revenue from outside Canada has dropped from 35 per cent of the industry total to just below 19 percent and the decline is largely attributed to diminished travel from the U.S. market.

It got me thinking is there are any parallels with Barbados.

“Traditionally, the United States has always has always received the lion’s share of the annual Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) budget, and frankly I have always found this difficult to understand.”

In the five year inclusive  period  2003 to 2007, we welcomed 654,282* American long stay visitors. From 2008 to 2012 that number had marginally grown to 662,246* or just 7,965 additional people.

To put that in perspective, it only represents around 30 more visitors per week.  Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Bajan Dreamers heading for the Antarctic! (with a little help from their friends)

Bajan Dreamers Antarctic

Bajan 17 year-olds Mickell Als and Shanice Holder have a dream: visit the Antarctic in 2015 while working to protect the environment.

Both have already been hard at work for years with various environmental and community projects on the rock – and now that they have been selected to be team members on the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE) 2015, all they need is a little help along the way. Cash, that is.

World Electronics in the Bridge Street Mall signed on as their first corporate sponsor, but Mickell and Shanice know it’s going to take more work to raise their mission profile and convince fellow Bajans that theirs is a worthwhile project. We at BFP are convinced that the project will benefit the environment, Barbados and the two young people so we’re on board to help them as we can.

BFP pledges to do regular stories about their project and progress and we’ll also publish some articles from their BajanDreamers blog. And yes, we’ll also do what we can to publicize their other sponsors like World Electronics (who are selling the new BlackBerrys Q10 & Z10 unlocked, for the lowest price we could find.)

Good luck to these two fine young people and… Keep working hard at your goal!


Filed under Barbados, Environment

Barbados Tourism Minister runs from press interview about Tourism Master Plan

Richard Sealy Barbados Tourism Minister

Richard Sealy Barbados Tourism Minister

The Bajan Reporter, Ian Bourne, comments on his latest interview ….

I was at launch of SoCo by St Matthias Rd, and Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy was ribbon cutter, he saw me and asked if I am “going to give trouble…”

I stated once the ceremony’s done, I wanted to interview him briefly on how can there be a Tourism Reinvigoration Plan when the Master Plan is not completed?

Big mistake…

Soon as ribbon cutting was done? Sealy did the 100 metres faster than Yohan Blake, Tyson Gay & Usain Bolt combined! I have to do like them and lie, then LIE in wait for their hasty departure…

I said this to say Sealy is a poor Minister and the only difference between him and a parrot is their plumage and what they squawk.

Read Ian Bourne’s original comment here.

Visit The Bajan Reporter


Filed under Barbados, Politics

Future Centre Trust – Green Noise forum about solid waste management

Barbados Future Centre Trust

Future Centre Trust

Green Noise (A public forum which will inform our advocacy on solid waste management)

When: Wednesday June 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Where: Guardian General Insurance Recreational Room

Facilitated by Kammie Holder, FCT Board member and the FCT team.

Facebook event link:

Our focus:

If “green” is the new buzzword…what does that really mean in Barbados?

Littering….air,water, soil quality….What do we in Barbados see as the most pressing environmental and therefore economical problems?

What “green” solutions do we need to focus on in Barbados?

Should we be “mekkin noise” individually about an issue rather than collectively voicing, documenting AND acting towards solutions?

Really though…we are asking YOU!

The Future Centre Trust wants to hear from you about how we should move forward as an organization as we ALL “Step Towards a Greener Barbados”.

This listening session will inform our advocacy for the pending Solid Waste Management Act.

We look forward to hearing from you! If you can’t make it, please be sure to email us your comments beforehand.

Kind Regards,

Future Centre Trust

1 Comment

Filed under Barbados, Environment

Questions about former Harlequin associate David Campion

Editor’s note: With the collapse of so many large scale, foreign-owned projects in Barbados in the last few years, Bajans are understandably cynical about any new projects. And when a former Harlequin employee sets up shop, some folks naturally want to ask how much they knew about Harlequin and when they knew it.

This article by BFP reader Due Diligence is tough on David Campion and Argo Development Studio. If Mr. Campion desires to comment or reply, we will print his unedited response right here and give him full coverage. Could Mr. Campion himself be more of a victim of Dave Ames than a participant? We’d like to hear his side of the story.

Take it away, Due Diligence…

Harlequin’s collapse produces growth industry of ex-employees setting up for themselves

How much did David Campion know, and when did he know it?

by Due Diligence

I read the article “Move to revive construction” in the June 21 edition of the Nation

A LOCAL DEVELOPER has invested just over $60 000 with the aim of helping to revive the island’s anaemic construction industry.

David Campion, managing director of Argo Development Studio, told a group of engineers, architects, interior designers and other industry players that the time was “perfect” for his new design and development management company. He said that it was poised to provide “world-class” service while offering opportunities for those in the industry to operate.

Being curious as to how David Campion, MD of Argo Development Studio will help to revive the island’s anaemic construction industry, Due Diligence decided to visit ADS website at

The website is very slick and glossy – worthy of Harlequin. If you close your eyes while playing the videos in the Film tab you can imagine the speaker to be Dave Ames, who may have written the script.

This is from the Home Page…

corporate + social responsibility

Our teams work with local industry, creating a strong bond between our projects and community. We work closely with Governments to ensure we preserve the natural beauty of the environments we develop in. We engage with the community through outreach programs and sponsorship to charities, schools and sports clubs.

We connect our organization to the wider industry worldwide through building strong connections both inside and outside the organization.

WOW – working with Governments, community outreach, sponsoring charities, worldwide reach.

In the Projects tab is a list of projects for which MD Campion claims to have been involved are five public sector projects in Ireland. Of more interest is the three private sector projects the MD of Argo Development Studio claims to have worked while working with hdstudio (Harlequin).

Buccament Bay Resort – Contract Value (Phase 1) US$120 million
H Barbados – Contract Value US$28 million
Marquis Estates – Budget US$250 million

Strangely, no claim to have worked on that highly successful project The Merricks.

In Greek mythology the ARGO was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Having worked for Dave Ames at hdstudio, Dave Campion will be totally familiar with the concept of seeing Ames fleecing people of their money (even if he was not involved in the sales end himself.)

Help to revive the island’s anaemic construction industry? This whole thing screams of SCAM.

It is time for Immigration to rescind Campion’s work permit, if he has one, before he does serious damage to the island’s anaemic construction industry.

Due Diligence


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues

Barbados Sea Island Cotton – Barbados Government backing ‘double your money’ slick stock scheme!

Now this is interesting. The Caribbean Sea Island Cotton brand has become Barbados Sea Island Cotton and to get the whole thing rolling again the Bajan Government is apparently backing a ‘double your money way too fast’ scheme.

More questions than answers in the video, but it does remind me about a BFP article published back in September of 2009. Here’s an excerpt…

Our bull manure warning meter spiked though when we read another one of those “Things gonna be just fine!” articles at the CBC – this one about Barbados cotton. Yup, right on schedule every year or so for the past ten years the government of the day announces that our cotton industry is going to be “revitalised” through better marketing. Nevermind that we haven’t the economies of scale to be competitive on the world market. Nevermind that we can’t even find sufficient labour to harvest the sugar crop in a timely manner.

Nevermind the naysayers, says the government to CBC, Barbados will “revitalise” the cotton industry. (Hmmm…. I think I smell a World Bank development grant out there somewhere.)

And how are we going to make Barbados cotton economically viable? How are we going to compete against China and India, the first and second largest cotton producers in the world? How are we going to profit in the middle of a recession where the commodity news services are reporting Recession hits cotton consumption, down 12% ?

How is Barbados cotton going to be profitable when India is using her booming economy to subsidize her cotton farmers so much that world cotton prices are forecast to fall by 6% in the next year?

How are we going to make Barbados cotton viable?

We’re going to make a “new brand”, that’s how! We’re going to sell to “upscale” markets. Yup, that’s what Agriculture Minister Senator Benn told the CBC.

Read the full article at BFP: Caribbean Sea Island Cotton brand to be killed by Barbados… as if a name change will solve anything


Filed under Agriculture, Barbados

Auto rental disaster has some lessons for Bajan tourism

car_rental barbados

Social media can be deadly for business

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Since time immemorial, it has of course always been important to protect a brand. A successful brand not only makes promises, but matches them with consistent delivery. From a tourism perspective, we protect the brand regardless of whether it is an individual hotel, chain, destination or other singular or group entity.

Years ago, it was far more difficult to inflict damage on an image and reputation that could have taken generations to build. Nowadays it can be destroyed in seconds just by using the social media, at absolutely no cost to the customer.

Let me give a small example…

Last June I flew to Boston and collected a hire car from one of the world’s leading vehicle hire companies located close to Logan airport. There were long queues at the agent’s desks and it took nearly an hour to complete any outstanding paperwork even though I am a member of their loyalty programme and had pre-registered most of the information required, like driving license and credit card details.

When we found the car at a numbered bay, it was frankly filthy with badly stained carpets and seats – together with an offensive interior stench that pervaded the vehicle for a full week even though most days the windows were kept wide open.

The sensible thing to have done at that time would have been to return to the office and point out the defects. But, we did not want another prolonged wait, our hotel accommodation was a three hour drive away and it was pouring rain considerably restricting visibility.

Upon our return to Barbados I reported the experience to the Customer Relations headquarters and received an automated response. Months went by and even after sending several reminders by email, nothing more was heard. Eleven months later I was almost ready to forget the issue and had resigned myself  to never (through choice) use the company again even though I had been a regular client for at least two decades.

One more try perhaps – so I posted my displeasure on the company’s FaceBook page.  Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Demerara Gold – Ingrid Griffith’s one woman show on in New York City, June 23, 2013, 3pm

Ingrid Griffith is the opening act for Debra Erhardt’s, solo-show, Jamaica Farewell at the Soho Playhouse.

Soho Playhouse

15 Vandam St, New York, NY 10013, United States
Phone:+1 212-691-1555

Comments Off on Demerara Gold – Ingrid Griffith’s one woman show on in New York City, June 23, 2013, 3pm

Filed under Guyana

NERD TV looking for Angela Cole and information on Gerald Bull – Project HARP


Dear Barbados Free Press

I’m writing from Nerd TV, a UK television production company based in London. We make documentaries and factual series for major US and UK networks.

I am doing some research into a documentary on Gerald Bull, a Canadian missile scientist, who did work in Barbados, running Project HARP, a missile research facility. I came across on your website an article about Angela Cole, a prominent writer from Barbados, who knew Gerald Bull  and was wondering if you might be able to tell me how I can get in touch with her? I would really like to talk to her about Project HARP. Moreover, if you knew of anyone else who might know something about the project and Gerald Bull, then I would be really grateful if you might be able to give me a steer as to how to get in touch with them.

Many thanks and best wishes,


Theo Chester
Development Researcher
T: + 44 (0)207 043 0080


Filed under Barbados, History

Stay-over visitors vs. Cruise ship passengers: an important distinction that the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association forgot


A crisis in hotel and tourism leadership

by Robert MacLellan for Barbados Free Press

This is the right time to seriously rethink the role and priorities of the most important trade association in the Caribbean – one which impacts half of all employment in the region – the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

The position of CEO of the organization has been vacant for some months, with a new appointment announcement expected shortly, and the election of a new President is due in July. The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference – scheduled by the CHTA for May this year – was cancelled, following less than successful events in the previous three years. All of this is taking place while much of the Caribbean’s mid market and budget hotel sector is still in a state of financial crisis, with stagnant room rates and rapidly rising costs, and when new resort projects find funding virtually impossible from banks in the region.

Let me first quote from two passages on the CHTA”s web site…

“CHTA’s Mission Statement.

Our mission is to facilitate the full potential of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving member needs and building partnerships in a sociably responsible and sustainable manner.”

and secondly…

“Organization History.

CHTA first began in 1959 as a committee of the Caribbean Tourist Association – a public / private sector organization created to promote and market the region – IN RESPONSE TO A SPECIFIC HOTEL LOBBY. CHTA was very much market-focused during its genesis – airlines controlled access, wholesalers controlled traffic and payments, and hotel reps controlled communication with travel agents, while the hotels themselves WERE NOT PROTECTED. Our main concern back then was for the HOTEL SECTOR TO REGAIN SOME MEASURE OF CONTROL and address these issues as one.” (My capital letters.)

Most Caribbean hoteliers would say that little has changed in the market situation, as outlined in the previous paragraph, except that the Online Travel Agencies (Expedia, Travelocity, et al) have added to the downward pressure on room rates. Average rates for mid market and budget hotels have not yet recovered in real terms in the five years since the 2008 world financial crisis. In the meantime, hotels’ energy and food costs have increased dramatically and today’s vast fleet of cost efficient mega cruise ships represents direct competition. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

More UK government attacks on Global Tax Avoidance and Income Shifting


Barbados had better develop some new revenue streams… like yesterday!

submitted by Not Taken

Luxembourg / Barbados / Marshall Islands – tax avoidance and income shifting is all the same shell game but it’s becoming more difficult to hide due to computers and the communication and lobbying powers of the internet.

The Brits are out to stop the game. Canada (CRA) and US (IRS) are cracking down. Barbados is very exposed. Our Government should be prepared to see its revenue from offshore businesses to decline substantially. The billion of new Treasury Bill funding to pay its bills will disappear quickly.

And at the same time as our offshore banking and companies hosting industries are coming under pressure, our tourism seems to be in a death spiral.

Many of us foresaw this situation coming ten years ago. Only fools couldn’t see it coming five years ago.

So far I’ve heard nothing from either the DLP or the BLP except excuses and criticism without solutions capable of addressing this crisis. This is not a time for gentle, incremental solutions: it is a time for radical changes, not more of the same.

Have a look at this from a Canadian newspaper…

Amazon’s U.K. unit slammed for ‘pathetic’ $3.7-million tax bill Inc.’s main U.K. unit paid $3.7-million (U.S.) of taxes on its 2012 income, it said on Wednesday, despite group UK sales of $6.5-billion, prompting criticism from lawmakers and competitors. Ltd. added in its accounts, published through the U.K. companies register, that it received £2.5-million ($3.8-million U.S.) in government grants during 2012 – just ahead of the £2.4-million it paid in corporation tax, the U.K. form of corporate income tax.

Corporate tax avoidance has risen to the top of the political agenda in Europe following revelations in the past couple of years about how little big names like Apple Inc., Starbucks, Google and Microsoft pay in tax in markets where they reap billions of dollars in sales.

The companies say they follow the rules but U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has called for international action on the shifting of profits, which can help firms cut tax bills. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Business & Banking, Economy

Was the Barbados Minister of Tourism aware of Virgin Atlantic’s massive seat cuts?

“If you were aware of such a massive cut in Virgin’s seat capacity, would you spend so much of the available Barbados tourism marketing budget on a heavily discounted programme?”

Was the Barbados Tourism Authority blindsided when launching the new tourist subsidy?

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Sometimes timing can be everything and that has left me to question the recent launch of the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion.

On Saturday 20th April 2013, the Minister of Tourism held a local media conference to launch the initiative, which according to reports is expected to cost a staggering 11 per cent of the annual budget of the Barbados Tourism Authority. Without wanting to repeat information already in the public domain, the objective is to drive an ‘additional’ 15,000 long stay visitors this year, who are expected to spend $30 million.

Tourism Minister Sealy

Tourism Minister Sealy

The following week the Minister then traveled to the United Kingdom, where, I believe, he met with several British travel interests, including both Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays. On his return, the Minister appeared on a 45 minute long CBC News Extra programme, where he was the only speaker. While TV8 clearly had a full hour available, no time whatsover was allocated to attending  journalists so they could pose any questions, they may have wished to ask.

Personally, I think this was a huge mistake.  It gives the impression either that there is no accountability and/or,  it is not important to keep the public (and industry) fully and accurately informed.

Then just days later, something truly dramatic happened, that appears to have caught many major private sector local tourism players completely by surprise. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

What is happening with Harlequin – Dave Ames? Class… discuss!

Harlequin Resort

“We are urging every investor to register in the HMSSE administration.”

Gareth Fatchett, Regulatory Legal Solicitors (Forms attached at bottom)

With over 10,000 discussion comments on Barbados Free Press, Harlequin “investors” (and we use the word somewhat tongue-in-cheek) have lots to say and discuss.

Here’s the latest we have from Gareth Fatchett of Regulatory Legal Solicitors – a memo sent out on May 17, 2013.

Perhaps our readers can add what’s happened since…

From: Regulatory Legal Solicitors []
Sent: 17 May 2013 17:09
To: Gareth Fatchett
Subject: 17th May 2013 – HIG UPDATE

At outset, HIG are more than prepared to continue to engage with Harlequin and will seek to understand and support a rescue plan where this is feasible notwithstanding the protective steps we are suggesting below. ie. our objective is to pursue different strategies which aim to achieve the best outcome for investors regardless of the course adopted. Simply sitting back while matters worsen is not a strategy HIG are prepared to adopt.

HIG members are all investors in Harlequin and would like nothing more than it to work. However, we have to be realistic. It is not going to work in the current format. It needs a major overhaul to give us any chance of surviving. Currently, the whole process is dictated by a handful of people at the Harlequin core. Frankly, that does not work for investors who need to understand the actual position.

The seriousness of the situation has increased with a High Court Judge making an order against Mr & Mrs Ames personally. Of course, Mr & Mrs Ames are able to challenge the order and seek to have it revoked. What is concerning for HIG is that the order was granted in the first place.

We are trying to keep an open mind, but the slippage of timetables, non payment of creditors and the issuing and granting of the injunction does little to reassure us. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law

Adrian Loveridge: Pessimist or realist?

Barbados Virgin 747-400

40,000 Virgin Atlantic seats lost in 2013

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

There is a very fine line when writing a column like this. The risk of being branded as a pessimist is high.

I only hope that readers will focus on the message that is trying to be conveyed and perhaps apply some of the content objectively, to look at issues in a broader more holistic way.

When I heard the Minister of Tourism recently predict that he anticipated long stay visitor arrivals in 2013 should reach the same levels as last year, I was frankly surprised. Look at our largest single market alone – the United Kingdom has already experienced a decline of 15,631 visitors in 2012, when compared with 2011.

In the first week of May, Virgin Atlantic brought forward from October 27th their planned change of aircraft on the Gatwick/Barbados route,by substituting the larger B747 aircraft with smaller A330 equipment on each day of the week except for Thursdays. This immediately cuts up to 1,134 seats weekly and by the end of December this year could amount up to almost 40,000 lost seats.

Put another way, we will lose airline capacity for nearly 23 per cent or around one in four of all our British land based arrivals annually, which in 2012 totaled 173,519 persons. It is also not unreasonable to conclude that at least 50 per cent of those lost seats could have been used by the largest tour operator into Barbados, Virgin Holidays.

Has anyone considered the incredible overall loss of occupied room nights this will bring to our hotels and the devastating financial consequences? Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Afra Raymond: 2 out of 3 public dollars are lost or stolen

VIDEO: Time to Face the Facts about Caribbean Corruption – 26 May 2013

This is the Afra Raymond interview on Caribbean Corruption for ‘Time to Face the Facts‘ which was broadcast out of Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation on Sunday 26th May 2013.

The audience was regional via cable and global via their Facebook page. The interviewer is Jerry George and the format was a live call-in. Video courtesy Jerry George.

For parts 2 and 3, head over to Afra Raymond’s blog.


Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Ping Yark outs the perks of Diplomatic status for High Commission employees in the UK


Yup… Leigh Bourne and all those Bajan expat rascals who publish Ping Yark say that at least ten Bajan High Commission employees hold Diplomatic Status. One additional employee is desperate to get the status.

Want to know why?

Download the May issue of Ping Yark right here… PY May 2013

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Filed under Barbados