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

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“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. 

So far this year (January-April) US visitor arrivals have fallen by 5,703 and if the current trend continues, when the May figures are released further disappointing numbers could eliminate any minimal gain at all over the last five years.

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. Especially when you consider  the United Kingdom produces higher visitor numbers and the average “Brit’ stays far longer, therefore contributing more in just about every way.

Plus the BTA budget has to meet the cost of  two offices (New York and Miami) in the USA, against the lone London location.

Should we be asking the same question as Canada’s national tourism marketing agency and directing precious promotional funds into the areas that have the highest return? We have had every opportunity to increase United States arrivals with the addition of over 1,000 seats a week alone with lost-cost carrier JetBlue since October 2009.

Sadly, other new routes that have been introduced like Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia and Charlotte have not generated sufficient traffic to keep them flying, either at all, or more than a limited seasonal service.

So am I advocating that ‘we’ (Barbados) follow Canada’s example?

Absolutely not. But it seems to make no sense whatsoever, to continue ploughing tens of millions of dollars, plus an inproportionate allocation of human and other resources into a market that is not producing any significant and sustained growth.

*Source – Caribbean Tourism Organisation

19 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

19 responses to “Should the Barbados Tourism Authority shut down operations in the United States?

  1. 222

    Any feedback from the Rihanna Campaign? And idea on how it is going or went?

  2. BFP

    222 says “Any feedback from the Rihanna Campaign? And idea on how it is going or went?”

    You are joking, right? You want feedback? Actual data so that the public can judge the relative effectiveness of the hundred million dollars that the BTA spends every year?

    You mek sport! ha ha ha ha ha!
    That’s a good one!

  3. Peter Quinlan

    Something also to note: Air Canada’s new vacation- destination airline “rouge”- announced today it’s list of Caribbean destinations & unfortunately Barbados was NOT on the list. Makes me wonder where was the BTA when it came time to lobby Air Canada for more flights with their new airline? This doesn’t bode well for Barbados, especially in light of Virgin reducing capacity next winter as well.

  4. Pingback: Should the Barbados Tourism Authority shut down operations in the United States? | Barbados Blog !

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

    When everything shut down , then we will have tome to learn truth,
    Hope we get a new top cop that will look in to things and do the best work needed to find what most are running from , TRUTH
    Barbados need to look for self help and not looking for others , We have all we need here to do what ever we need to do and live well and longer than most. Selling out the island is not good business ,
    When deals go bad there is no law to back you up , just Fraud.
    Audit needs to be done and get back to law. Then and only then people will come to a place that is not over priced and eat the same things as they leave at home, Local need to be sold and eating , to feel the Bajan Island.

  6. The problem with the BTA is that they’ve been targeting the wrong section of the US Market! The US Destination Wedding Market spend in the Caribbean alone is approx US$80 million. Barbados receives mere crumbs from this pie! Perhaps if they catered their campaigns more along these lines, they would see higher return on their investment.

  7. 172

    Well BTA has just about stopped advertising in Canada. Have not seen an add in a major Canadian newspaper travel section for some time. Anyone know how the Gol flight from Brasil is doing?

  8. Lus Bim

    Anon

    That should be ” Have not seen an ad in a major Canadian newspaper travel section for some months”

  9. Peter Quinlan

    I’m frankly not surprised that the BTA has not placed any advertisements in Canadian newspapers in recent memory. Perhaps the BTA realizes it cannot compete with other southern destinations which arguably offer better service standards at a cheaper price. Having said that, the powers to be at the BTA should be doing their homework & aggressively seeking out the nearly 100,000 Canadians who at one time visited Barbados on a yearly basis. That number had plummeted to about half that now. It certainly doesn’t help when the visit Barbados website doesn’t reflect ALL of Canada by omitting one of its provinces (Newfoundland) This glaring omission has only recently been changed, but the point is the BTA seems too complacent when it comes to aggressively seeking new (or repeat) Canadian visitors. Word of mouth by the likes of yours truly only goes so far.
    Peter Quinlan. St. John’s NFLD.

  10. NYCBGI

    No the complete BTA should be taken to the wood shed. they have no clue to know how to deal with the US or Global market. to date the missing tourist coming to BGI is a direct result to a failed marketing .promotions. go back 15 to 20 years ago when there was a real concerned effort to bring tourist to BGI, there seems to be a real lack of awareness as to where to put effort and resources since other islands and cruise lines are doing extremely well and making money. BTA has missed the opportunities available to begin to resume the flow of tourist to BGI, its not to late but time is running out,, seize the opportunity or suffer a slow painful tourism business, ,

  11. Luvs Bim

    NYCBGI

    “the missing tourist coming to BGI is a direct result to a failed marketing .promotions. go back 15 to 20 years ago”

    According to the promo material The CHUM Breakfast In Barbados promotion “is Toronto’s most famous trip giveaway.”

    2013 was the 28th year that CHUM (and no doubt with substantial BTA funding support) has been sending lucky winners to BGI.

    28 years!!! Maybe time to try another promo in which the visitors pay their way.

  12. Luvs Bim

    Caribbean Tourism ad in June 27 Toronto Star

    SANDALS – Full page ad for Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort – does not appear to have tax-payer funding

    SAINT LUCIA TOURISM/AIR CANADA VACATIONS – Half Page joint ad promoting 8 properties (including two Sandals properties other thn Grande St. Lucian)

    ARUBA TOURISM/AIR CANADA VACATIONS – Half page ad

    Seems that somebody still believes in advertising as a means to attract tourists.

    Seems that BTA has already shut down operations in Canada

  13. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘If we had to be perfectly honest, St. Lucia is at least 30 years behind Barbados in terms of tourism….that’s the reality’

    Richard Sealy – Minister of Tourism
    Barbados Advocate – 28th June 2013

  14. Canadian Tourist

    Anyone seen Death in Paradise? Why wasn’t that made in Barbados? Magnum P.I? Did wonders for Hawaii.

    Maybe the CBC (yours) and the CBC (ours) should see about a joint TV production to get Barbados in the minds of sunbirds on a weekly basis. Would be your best advertising campaign.

  15. Adrian Loveridge

    Canadian Tourist,

    You ask a very good question because we have some very talented film people here that have been trying to years to get this industry going. Guadeloupe, where Death in Paradise takes place is of course a Department of France and that Government gives fairly generous concessions to encourage production there. Just like Canada. I believe the Canadian Content laws were some of the best enacted anywhere in the world. Sadly, our Government here has been slow to draft legislation and offer tax inducements and simply do not seem to understand, as you point out the tremendous benefits to the destination. Just think how many people PEI because of Anne of Green Gables.

  16. Peter Quinlan

    …. and to add to that it’s amazing the response we’ve had here in Newfoundland (Canada) with the media campaign that Tourism Newfoundland had implemented over the past few years…the numbers of tourists have increased dramatically & the tourists certainly don’t come here for the weather!

  17. barbados tripadvisor

    ya think this on u tube and many more like it helps people make the decision to go or not to go to black countries????????

  18. barbados tripadvisor

    you just dont get it do you all! people dont want to be robbed and killed by blacks any more and the few white sluts after being cheated on and beaten dont really care about the big big bamboo no more as they can be bought at your local pervert sex stores.in any size.

  19. Basil

    What’s that American shit got to do with Barbados or tourism?