Barbados tourism: How deep does this hole go, and how much money will government waste?

“I cannot recall, at least in my 25 years actively involved in tourism on Barbados, that we have ever endured 17 consecutive months of visitor decline under any Government.

Simply put, could ‘we’ be spending more, to harvest less?

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

If I had to make a short list for our tourism policymakers in an attempt to influence positive change, it probably might end up as quite a long list, but two pleas would be right at the top…

Number One is to avoid making heady predictions when even at the outset any informed opinion indicated there was very little, if any, possibility they would become true.

Secondly, please do not use the word ‘success’ when referring to a promotion or initiative before there is at least clear evidence that it is, or will become one.

The second booking deadline of the Barbados Island Inclusive (BII) programme has just passed since it was originally launched on April 29, 2013. Just to refresh your memory, $11 million was allocated for BII to ‘bring an additional 15,000 tourists to our shores, with a total spend of BDS$30 million’ by issuing ‘free spending vouchers’.

The critical phrase is ‘additional tourists’.

In July it was ‘revealed that more than 5,000 tourists had taken advantage’ of the offer. However, since the BII became effective in early May, we have experienced a fall in long stay visitors during every month so far this year.

May was down 29 persons, June down 2,965, July down 3,318 (the lowest arrivals for that month in eleven years) and August* down 2,591.

So a collective decline for the four months of 8,903 people.

Therefore to boast ‘5,000 tourists’ have used the voucher may be true, but that does not in anyway reflect an accurate and fair picture of the current state of the industry.

One of our most senior tourism policymakers was quoted in the media on March 12 as stating ‘We are putting some programmes in place that we should end the year flat’. Even though the numbers were already down by over 10,000 long stay visitor arrivals at that stage when compared with 2012.

Well, here we are in the latter part of September and that number has climbed to over 26,000. Or, I should say ‘fallen’. I cannot recall, at least in my 25 years actively involved in tourism on Barbados, that we have ever endured 17 consecutive months of visitor decline under any Government.

And the very thought of ending the year ‘flat’, either reflects a massive disconnect with reality or a severe attack of wishful thinking, which only may end in tears for some, but potential insolvency for others.

I also think ‘we’ need to look very carefully behind the economics of the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion. If all BDS$11 million is spent and that 5,000 jumps to 15,000 ‘additional’ visitors who spend BDS$30 million, that is an average per person subsidy of BDS$733.

When you bear in mind, this is across all included durations of stay and that subsidy figure has to take into account some visitors would have stayed as few as two nights. There also appears that there is no effective way to confirm these are ‘additional’ visitors, as clearly various social media sites indicate the vouchers are being redeemed by many regulars.

I am not saying for a minute that repeat visitors should not be rewarded, but in this case is the result achieved only to dilute current earned revenue?

Simply put, could ‘we’ be spending more, to harvest less?

29 Comments

Filed under Barbados

29 responses to “Barbados tourism: How deep does this hole go, and how much money will government waste?

  1. iabingy

    can some one shut this man up please.what a pest.go away please/
    blab blab blab.

  2. RLL

    If only we had implemented half of Loveridge’s suggestions a decade ago Bim could have survived in better shape.

  3. West Side Davie

    I heard the government owes millions to some of the road builders and can’t pay. Can it get much worse around here? Teachers pay is behind too but not as much. They won’t take it!

    Welcome back Clive.

  4. Michele Paquet

    We

    Sent from my iPad

  5. European

    This is written in Swedish and translated by Google so I apologize for any errors.

    Being in the position Barbados is, it is pointless to spend money on marketing. Possibly you get tourists to come once but they will not return. Put the money on the refurbishment of the island. Nice walks like The Boardwalk, looking at everything that’s around the beaches. Take a walk on the narrow sidewalks broken down on the south coast and try to see it from a tourist’s eyes. Cars and particularly buses running past in close to 100 kilometers per hour. Stop at Rockley Beach and watch the public restrooms and showers. Overall, we see the island dirty and dilapidated out. Why go to Barbados when there are so many nice options on the Earth?

  6. Anonymous

    I agree with Mr Loveridge – The first comment made against Mr Loveridge is a dim and sad view of what is going on and the whole truth is that he is right – The Island is Dirty and lacking in much of what we boast about the people of Barbados have lost the pride they once had, the “crab in the bucket mentally” has taken its hold on the island – you can believe what you want “iabingy” but the truth hurts, Barbados is reaping what it is sowing “Nothing” and not even our beautiful beaches can save us now – It best to hire a Plumber to stop a leak and not a mason to bury the leak – Its common sense – We have had our day

  7. sith

    The internet allows people to shop and compare. We simply are not competitive and there are many reasons for this. Among the top is our fixed currency regime. This has lead to the island living beyond its means. There is a natural balancing of tourists foreign exchange spending taking place. When you are among the most expensive destinations in the world then you had better be the most beautiful and have great luxury available for your guests. We are neither the most beuatiful and our luxury hotels are mostly 3 star compared to other destinations. Check out Costa Rica, Brasil, Mexico, Cuba and other destinations and see what we are competing against. It is going to take a nation wide effort to turn things around and there is ultimately going to be a lot of belt tightening. That will be casued by either increased unemployment becasue tourist related businesses will not survive, or a reduction in living standard becasue we simply won’t have the foreign exchange to buy things. If we want to keep our standard of living everyone of us must make an effort to make it Beautiful Barbados again.

  8. Peter Quinlan

    All excellent points (except for the drivel from iabingy). As a frequent (& possibly only) visitor from Newfoundland Canada, please allow me to add a few points: Barbados prides itself on the friendliness of its people, however in most of my encounters with the locals they seem to be quite glum & look at tourists with ulterior motives instead of being genuinely happy that the tourists have chosen Barbados as a destination. The service standards are quite poor vis-a-vis other Caribbean destinations. The whole island of Barbados needs to be cleaned & polished (this costs little to implement). Very good point made about the speed of traffic on the roads & the lack of sidewalks. Too much drug dealing (& blatently out in the open) in The Gap.
    Still there is a lot going for Barbados but I’m afraid that if the island doesn’t get Its act together (& soon!) then the glory days of the 70’s/80’s will never return. I wish you all luck.

  9. Rastaman

    @iabingy : Spoken like a true DEM.

  10. Party Animal

    Iabingy, ……..We Bajans only got alot of mouth, thank God people like Mr.Loveridge who has the guts to speak out, and speak the truth.
    We better wake up real soon

  11. marsdalebear

    You need to ask yourselves why tourists should come to Bim rather than other destinations.
    Sun,sand and sea are available elsewhere at a far,far lower price. In the past Bims usp has been that was “glamorous”.
    Where is the glamour now?
    Dirty streets, rotting hotels right on the boardwalk,fume spewing buses and trucks,surly service. Add to this a government that is underqualified to run an average parish council, with a police force that is a very bad joke and you have………..a third world country.
    Is this what we want for Bim?
    The powers that be must wake up and start to do what they were elected to do. Stop lining their own pockets and start to put the country first.
    The economy is tourism based, accept it and start to manage it.
    I had 2 visitors in the beginning of the year,very excited at coming to Bim. When they left after 14 days they compared it to a stay in the Gambia! If you have ever been there you will know that it was not a compliment.
    Wake up Barbados, time is running out!

  12. ac

    Geee whizzzzz……..haven,t we heard this all before………….as far back as _”””mmmmmmmm.really i stop counting……….

  13. This man Adrian Loveridge writes half truths mixed with lots of misinformation every week and fools gullible Bajans that he is genuine. Barbados is a poor country. It is going through the same recession that his country of birth is going through .The U.K Glovernment has cut funds to every Ministry resulting in suffering by millions back home in his country from which Barbados gets its long stay visitors. Give Barbados a break my friend . When things improve in your country then we will get more UK long-stay visitors. In the meantime let’s pray that the following austere measures turn around your homeland’s economy.

    (1) The free school meals which are served to Barbadian children from Nursery School to class 4 at Primary School, are enjoyed by students in UK only in reception, classes 1 and 2 . Added to that if the household income is 16,000 pounds per year the child doesn’t taste a free school meal in any class at school. Full story at Url http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/sep/17/nick-clegg-free-school-meals-all-socialists-now

    (2) Disabled people’s lives will be ruined by sweeping cuts to services. Full report at url http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/09/disabled-people-cuts-cumulative-impact

    (3) 25% of local authority welfare schemes now exclude families where an adult is in work. Full story at url http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/jul/18/local-welfare-cuts-rich-pickings-for-loan-sharks

    (4) Rising house prices put ownership out of the reach of millions. Spiralling rents mean low income tenants struggle to keep money aside for fuel and food. Overcrowding is increasing. The markets have failed dismally to meet housing demand Full story http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/sep/11/uk-housing-inadequate-says-un-envoy-rolnik-bedroom-tax

    (5) Council cuts: vulnerable people could lose life-transforming social care. Full story http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/25/council-cuts-social-care

    (6) Closing the Independent Living Fund shows how low the government will go Full story http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/closing-independent-living-fund-disabled-care

    (7) Preventative care for elderly under threat, survey suggests Full story http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/dec/10/preventative-care-services-elderly-comres

    (8) Osborne Pledges Five More Years of U.K. Austerity Full story http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-20/osborne-pledges-five-more-years-of-u-k-austerity.html

  14. Once again Adrian Loveridge, I am asking you to publish the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Why do you find it so difficult to read and comment on articles like the one carried at http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=45448 with the caption ‘Caribbean tourism barely keeping head above water’ ? The text reads

    NEW YORK (CMC):
    A senior official of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) warned that the Caribbean “is barely keeping its head above water” amid predictions that the sector will record a slight increase in tourist arrivals in 2013.

    CTO Director of Research and Information Technology, Winfield Griffith, told a workshop that forms part of the Caribbean Week activities, that the figures show the region did not outperform areas such as Asia and the Pacific last year.

    He said overall, worldwide, there had been a 3.8 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in 2012 and that “Asia and the Pacific, they were ahead of Africa slightly and the Caribbean followed in third position”.

    He said five years ago, the Middle East, which was a major competitor to the Caribbean and other destinations “had fallen back due to what is happening in those areas.

    “We know that these areas are quite politically unstable and it reflects in their numbers,” he said.

    However, Griffith told the workshop attended by representatives from the National Trust Offices (NTO’s), the Caribbean was losing its “bit of market share” with regards to stay over arrivals even when the figures were showing an increase globally.

    He said French Caribbean islands recorded a decline between 2011-2012, while the United States and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean were recording significant increases.

    He said Cuba and the Dominican Republic continue to be front runners and that they were continuing to “do so even though they are not showing the numbers at the beginning of the year”.

    But the director of tourism for the Americas in Martinique, Muriel Wiltord-Latamie told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that a turnaround is on the horizon.

    “In Latin America and South America the numbers are improving, we a quite satisfied with the numbers for the USA, we have (seen) a notable increase and we were able to put more transportation between Miami and Martinique.

    “From Canada we have also improved airlift to the island. We had an increase for 2012 of 14 per cent which is a good number for us but we don’t have any numbers for 2013 as yet. We are doing good, we have to a lot to improve of course we want to make progress, we had a significant year in terms
    of airlift,” she added.

    Griffith said that for the first quarter of this year, “the region did not do every well” with arrivals actually declining by 0.5 per cent for the entire Caribbean.

    “When you look at the CARICOM region it declined by 3.4 per cent so it was not a bright start for the Caribbean this year.”

    In addition to the poor start, the Caribbean has had to deal with Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD that regional governments say make the region much more expensive to visit.

    “The United Kingdom visitors are taking shorter trips, the length of stay is not as long as it used to be, so that has compounded the issue in addition to the APD. So overall we are taking about a situation where stay over arrivals are under severe pressure from out of Europe (and) it is counter balance from some improvements from the US market.”

    Regarding the cruise industry, Griffith said “there has not been a lot of increase activity in cruise either.

    “Cruise has been rather stagnant in the last few years. Between 2009 and 2010 it showed some increase which we were hoping would be sustained but thereafter it has not moved much, the growth has been very flat.

    “The activity continues to trough between may and September and you would be aware in some countries not even a single cruise arrival is experience during the summer months. It continues to peak more in the months of April and then it declines and then starts again in October.

    In the first quarter, there was zero increase over last year,” Griffith added.

  15. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’

    I am all for that, but you are seizing on ‘predictions’ rather than proven facts.
    ‘slight increase in tourism arrivals in 2013’ –
    Let us first get at least the ACTUAL figures for the first half of 2013 before we go off into the land of what could, may, possibly happen.

    2012 Long Stay Visitors
    Barbados DOWN 5.5 per cent

    CTO members who showed an increase in 2012:
    Antigua
    Aruba
    Bahamas
    Belize
    British Virgin Islands
    Cancun (Mexico)
    Cayman Islands
    Cuba
    Curacao
    Dominican Republic
    Dominica
    Guyana
    Jamaica
    Montserrat
    Puerto Rico
    St. Maarten
    St. Vincent and The Grenadines
    Suriname
    US Virgin Islands

    We risk taking as gospel, silly things that are said without thinking about the subject. An example: ‘If we had to be perfectly honest, St. Lucia is at least 30 years behind Barbados in terms of tourism… that’s the reality’.

    When you have some facts, please come back with a reasonable argument and we can easily establish the ‘truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’.

  16. barbarees

    I submitted two articles and you or your friend the blogmaster deleted one and you responded to the one where you can respond with half truths. I will resubmit the other one shortly, highlighting the suffering which compatriots are experiencing with the austere measures implemented by the Cameron administration. I imagine it is hurting. Nevertheless , here is the truth of the stay-over statistics published by the Caribbean Tourism Organization on August 20th 2013. I would advise you to stay away from statistics if you can’t interpret and publish truthfully what the author of the data supplies.

    http://www.onecaribbean.org/wp-content/uploads/AUG27Lattab13.pdf

    Caribbean Tourism Organization Latest Statistics 2013
    August 20,2013

    Table 1 Tourist (Stop Over) arrivals 2013
    Period Jan-Jul 2013

    Country Arrivals Overall Change

    Antigua and Barbuda 149,464 -5.4
    Aruba 465,375 + 5.4
    Bahamas 581,528 -8.6
    Barbados 312,228 -6.7
    Belize 166,304 +8.9
    Cuba 1,595,566 -1.9
    Dominican Rep. 2,931.103 + 0.8
    Jamaica 1,059,285 -1.2
    St.Lucia 165,814 +4.8

    If you want to do a comparative check on the performance of Caribbean countries, you don’t take overall change into consideration and say that one country is doing better than the other. By your silly argument, you are suggesting week after week here and on other Caribbean blogs that St. Lucia is doing much better than the Dominican Republic and Cuba in terms of stay-over visitors . I would suggest you do evening classes at the Springer Memorial School or St. Leonard’s Secondary and get a better grasp on reading statistics.

  17. barbarees

    The tabulation which I published was distorted, with the actual arrivals not being separated from the percentage increase/decrease e.g Antigua should show 149,464 with a decrease of -5.4 % and Aruba 465,375 with an increase of +5.4 % . The original can be found at http://www.onecaribbean.org/wp-content/uploads/AUG27Lattab13.pdf

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘get a better grasp of reading statistics’

    Clearly you need to follow your own advice.

    You are misleading readers of this blog by basing your figures on different reporting periods.
    Please come back again when you can compare like-for-like.
    ie: all the destinations you mention are comparing Jan-June or Jan-July

  19. barbarees

    I gave the readers the facts. The url is there for all and sundry to read. I did not manufacture them. If you are that simple minded to believe that one month would make a drastic change in overall percentage , let me supply you with countries’ performances over the same period.
    St. Lucia had 165,814 stay-overs with an increase of 4.8 %, Anguilla 39,408 arrivals with a 6.0 increase, Jamaica 1,059,285 with an increase of 0.8, Cuba 1,595,566 with a decrease of 1.9 %. By your silly argument and lack of understanding of statics, you are concluding week after week that Anguilla with 39,408 stay-over arrivals is outperforming Cuba with 1,595,566 arrivals. Percentage increase taken into isolation is a meaningless argument and I suggest you stop repeating it week after week here and other Caribbean blogs. Heed my advice and go to Springer Memorial or St. Leonard Secondary and learn how to interpret statistical data.

  20. barbarees

    I gave you the following reasons for the decline in UK stay-over visitors and for some reason or the other, they were deleted. I will send them again. Once more I beg you to read your British tabloids, ignore the Nation newspaper and report truthfully to the gullible readers who admire you for your weekly ramblings especially on Barbados Underground. Here I go.

    Owing to the following austere measures taken by the David Cameron administration,, the U.K tourist market is not the happy hunting ground which Barbados previously enjoyed. The natives are suffering just like Barbadians Examples

    (1) Whereas school meals are free for Barbadian children from Nursery School through to Class 4 at Primary Schools, Free school meals in U.K Primary School are enjoyed by students in reception, classes 1 and 2 . Added to that if the household income is 16,000 pounds per year the child doesn’t taste a free school meal in any class at school.
    Full story at Url http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/sep/17/nick-clegg-free-school-meals-all-socialists-now

    (2) Disabled people’s lives will be ruined by sweeping cuts to services. Full report at url http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/09/disabled-people-cuts-cumulative-impact

    (3) 25% of local authority welfare schemes now exclude families where an adult is in work. Full story at url
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/jul/18/local-welfare-cuts-rich-pickings-for-loan-sharks

    (4) Rising house prices put ownership out of the reach of millions. Spiralling rents mean low income tenants struggle to keep money aside for fuel and food. Overcrowding is increasing. The markets have failed dismally to meet housing demand
    Full story

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/patrick-butler-cuts-blog/2013/sep/11/uk-housing-inadequate-says-un-envoy-rolnik-bedroom-tax

    (5) Council cuts: vulnerable people could lose life-transforming social care. Full story
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/25/council-cuts-social-care

    (6) Closing the Independent Living Fund shows how low the government will go
    Full story
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/closing-independent-living-fund-disabled-care

    (7) Preventative care for elderly under threat, survey suggests
    Full story
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/dec/10/preventative-care-services-elderly-comres

    (8) Osborne Pledges Five More Years of U.K. Austerity
    Full story
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-20/osborne-pledges-five-more-years-of-u-k-austerity.html

  21. sith

    Another way to tell how well things are going is to look at the foreign exchange reserves…..tourism is a major contributor to them. Anyone know if they are up or down over the last few years. They are a valid indicator of whether the lifestyle of a country and its citizens can be sustained.

  22. Richard in the UK

    OK. Lets look at this from the perspective of the tourist. A tourist who has been to Barbados over 20 times.We come for one reason only – The People. If we were looking for value for money or sheer luxury we would most certainly look elsewhere and probably outside of the Caribbean Islands. barbados today has little to offer in terms of worldwide holiday destinations, Mexico and the far east are far better propositions. Barbados is out of touch and out of date so far as top of the range holidays go, which is a huge pity as we love the people and the Island so much. The tourism authorities need to wake up and get their act together quickly.

  23. @Richard
    Keep coming my friend. You will be welcomed with open arms. Your reason for coming is the same that UK visitors have been using for the past 200 years. Bring your family with you and let me know when you are coming . My husband and I will do everything possible to have a couple Banks Beers with you in Oistin’s on a Friday night. As you would know after 20 visits, a ‘Catch-of-The-Day’ fish dinner for all members of the family. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  24. @Richard
    The above should read ‘ ‘Catch-of-The-Day’ fish dinner for all members of the family is available’

  25. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘This season, in 2013 we are on the course to break the 2009 record in terms of numbers enthused John Emmanuel of Saint Lucia Tourist Board’.
    Well done John, not bad for a country that some think is 30 years behind Barbados in terms of tourism…

  26. Rastaman

    Tell it like it is ..

  27. Mark from London

    As a British tourist who has visited at least 15 times over the last 21 years I’d like to add my thoughts about what I think

    needs sorting. Firstly It’s not all your fault, the extra taxation that we have to pay to fly has made long haul more expensive than ever before, and there are many more destinations available which have lifted their game over the years, Dubai being a good example. I think the real problem is that the Island has started to look really shabby, there is a real need to tidy up the place and finish all the developments that are half built, yes it’s noisy and the buses drive too fast but that is part of the charm of the Island.

  28. Anonymous

    The tourist as ambassador rhianna isn’t helping. Back in the news again smoking pot with snoop dog. So it isn’t chris brown leading her astray. She appears to be leading the men

  29. The real problem is that a large section of our growing market has ended up with less discretionary funds. Even though the recession has technically ended, the middle-class householder still has to recover and refurbish, at home before he can begin to think of spending money overseas. Many of them are still underwater with their mortgages, even though they are working again. The local markets, in their home countries, and their foreign imports will have to boom again before we begin to benefit from the excess that will inevitably accrue from this increased activity. This however brings in another problem, hinted at by “Mark From London.” Increased imports, for small things that have been neglected for awhile, means a negative spike in balance of payments. The governments begin to feel the strain on foreign exchange, have to borrow to fund the budget, and therefore tries to rein in spending overseas, by increasing taxation, and negative publicity.

    THE REAL DANGER
    In this whole sequence of natural events is for governments at the tourist destinations not to realize how bad things could easily get. Their publicity and advertising campaigns don’t seem to be working, because the returns are still declining. What is difficult to estimate is to what extent these campaigns, even though they are not turning things around, might be making the decline less precipitous. RATHER THAN HALTING THESE CAMPAIGNS, I would advise, governments and chambers of commerce and other relevant statutory boards to attempt to streamline, focus, even tinker with present spending to make it more effective. If we stop spending now, we could very well find out, TOO LATE, how bad things can really get.