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?

Needless to say it’s not just the negative effect on our accommodation providers, but the trickle down effect it has on restaurants, attractions, activities, car rental, shopping, taxis etc. And at a time when Government most needs higher tax collection, the loss of non reclaimable VAT on all these tourism offerings.

It’s vaguely conceivable that our policymakers imagine they are going to make up the numbers from other major markets like the USA and Canada, but this is extremely unlikely. Out of these two sources there was negligible growth in 2012. Sadly so far in the first four months of 2013 there has been an average monthly decline  of 11.9 per cent from the United States and 9 per cent from Canada.

Of course, we do not have the winter climatic advantage for most of the remaining eight months so this trend is hardly likely to change without extensive cost-effective ‘consumer  facing’ marketing and a dramatic improvement in destination visibility overall.

Yes!  There are a few rays of sunshine on the horizon… The Thomas Cook double-drop charters from Manchester and TUI flights from Hamburg. But these do not commence until  November and clearly will not come anywhere close to making up the Virgin deficit.

This scenario regrettably paints a very gloomy picture, but personally I believe we must start to face this reality and implement measures needed to redress this situation – rather than repeatedly uttering predictions which are at best, whimsical and almost impossible to achieve with the status quo.

18 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

18 responses to “Adrian Loveridge: Pessimist or realist?

  1. 194

    Hotels need to have more ‘special offers ‘ to encourage longer stays

  2. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2013 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    If you care about People they will care about you. fill your rooms with good prices times are hard. If you hold your ground to tight they will hold there cash tighter . Ride the wave , you cant control the Moon nor the Ocean.

  3. robert ross

    Is it a case of: (1) less visitors; and so (2)emptier planes; and so (3) higher expense; and so (4) smaller planes which are cheaper to run?

    I suppose it is.

    All this has been explored elsewhere recently so it’s difficult to sound novel. BUT is the answer with hoteliers offering more ‘innovative’ packages, whatever that means recisely, or some sort of radical rethink of the entire tourist industry so that we end up offering something our competitors do not. If the latter. then there are all sorts of problems arising from the straightjacketed mindset rooted in what is said to encapsulate all or nothing moral norms.

  4. Carson C. Cadogan

    Adrian seem to think that our Treasury is an ATM for the Tourist industry!

  5. sith

    Value for money is not there period. Can it be fixed? In the short term it is difficult to see how. The soloution is a complicated. It involves evaluation of monetary policy, elimination of government defecits, and new investment all of which will not happen overnight. Add all of that to being a destination that is much further from source markets than the competition is and the reality of the problem is clear.

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    Carson,

    Clearly it was a ATM for your subsidised hotel.
    04.06.2009 – $535,508.00
    18.11.2009 – $307,714.96

    Have you paid in back to the taxpayers yet?

    P & Q – ZERO

  7. 169

    @Adrian
    It is as if Barbados is stuck in a time warp circa 1957 when the two
    hot movies were “Fire Down Below” and “Island in the Sun”
    Being a frequent business traveler to BGI I am always struck at
    Immigration by the fact that de-boarding either Virgin or BA right
    after my AA flight lands not too many people are young. Barbados
    is for the middle aged or older. Study South Beach in Miami for
    awhile. They turned their Art Deco buildings into a MAJOR plus.
    Try doing that with you truly horrible 50s, 60′ and 70s resorts.
    Somehow make them trendy instead of the tacky dowagers that they are.
    MAKE THEM TRENDY……..how, I have no idea but do it.

  8. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous,

    I think you might have something there. I certainly think we have to go back to the basic in terms of service delivery and making visitors they are cherished and their money is appreciated.

  9. Mia

    The issue is not the loss of 40,000 seats. If those seats were being sold they would never have been lost. How are we going to get people to Barbados? Honestly, we have competition from the entire Caribbean – sea, sand and sun is available in all of the islands. How can we differentiate ourselves? That is the real issue. If a group of 100 people wanted to come to Barbados, have no fear, they will get here.

  10. 169

    Ever thought of doing something out of the box?
    Become the only country in the world to offer truly
    100%, universal, free Wi-Fi. Invite Microsoft, Google,
    Yahoo, AOL, et al down to the island to make Barbados
    the FIRST, the ONLY, country that embraces the 21st Century.

    Think of the PRESS-PUBLICITY-TALK

    Go for it…………..this was simply a modest proposal!

  11. LOOK

    Barbados relies on too few things to survive, mainly tourism. Should immediately engage in something else or prepare for the worst.

  12. WSD

    Loveridge: Pessimist and unfortunately, realist!

  13. The Oracle

    Carson Cadogan, tek dat lash from AL you greedy, rip off artist…you and yours really think that with our access to information we need your versions? You’re a cess pool of liars and crooks.

  14. Adrian Loveridge

    The Oracle,

    Carson should also answer if the nearly $1 million his hotel took in taxpayers monies stayed here in Barbados travelled to Trinidad.

  15. peltdownman

    Right here, in Bridgetown and the environs, we have the mother lode. The largest demographic of persons with the time and the money to spend it is the baby boomers. Sure, they love the beach, but you know what else, they love heritage sites. And worldwide the attractions that entice a growing number of visitors are brewery and distillery tours, and here we are with the oldest rum in the world. In Barbados we are not overrun with huge brand name hotels. We have resisted to our benfit, the globalisation of our fast food market. Our hotels are small, intimate, and for the most part give good personal service. Sure, Barbados is expensive, but that is less of a factor if visitors feel that they are getting value for money. Let’s get rid of those horrible skeleton buildings that are blighting our coast, let’s make the place just look better. This is not rocket science – it just needs someone to get off their backsides and GET ON WITH THE JOB instead of making excuses!

  16. Adrian Loveridge

    peltdownman,

    Right with you there. As you point out many of our small hotels give good service and its no surprise that the TOP TEN TripAdvisor rated hotels on Barbados are all small.

  17. Victor

    I find it strange that over the past 4 or 5 years Virgin flights from Gatwick have been packed to the gunnels, full, whereas 10 years ago there were loads of empty seats on flights all year round. You used to be able to find spare seats to stretch out on. So if current flights appear full how come seat numbers are being reduced? Does anyone have an explanation?

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    Victor, I can’t answer for all periods but my wife flew on Virgin to Gatwick 8 days ago and the A330 (smaller plane) had just 140 passengers. The week before, a British operator staying with us said his flight had just 114 passengers (also smaller A330).