We should be telling people about this!
Analysis of the first nine months of 2013 in terms of long stay visitor arrivals confirms that while all major markets experienced substantial declines, the most resilient and therefore least impacted was the United Kingdom with a 2.9 percent fall when compared with the same period in 2012.
When so many discussions have taken place regarding the negative effects of the dreaded APD (Advanced Passenger Duty), some may find this 2.9 percent fall surprising. But on the other hand to maintain balance and fairness, is credit due to the BTA staff in London and the private sector tourism sector on Barbados for stepping up to the plate, despite all the fiscal challenges, to minimise the overall decline in arrivals?
It is often vaunted that the typical British visitor stays longer and spends more money, and that perhaps these attributes are where we should be spending more of the precious available marketing funds to cultivate at this time.
Politically, we know that the volume of numbers is often all-important, but should ‘we’ currently be focusing on the bottom line in terms of the overall value contribution our visitors are making?
With the recent appointment of a new British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, is it time to hopefully sit down with her (Mrs. Victoria Glynis Dean) and explore ways that we can influence and entice additional UK residents to our shores? Not just from a holidaymaker’s point of view, but increased trade delegations, sporting and common interest groups and the like.
While the very last objective is to further reduce airlift capacity to/from Gatwick and Manchester with existing carriers, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, I still believe there is further scope for limited target charters from airports like Belfast where a ZERO rate of APD applies to long haul routes. Also we should be examining cruise and stay programmes where extra numbers can be generated from areas like Glasgow, Edinburgh and London’s third airport, Stansted.
Having also recently returned from a short break in the Florida Keys after eight days in England, we have to make a much better job of emphasizing our value-for-money. Very few, if any, resorts on Barbados that I am aware of impose a mandatory 18 per cent service charge – a resort charge of US$20 per day, in addition to the customary sales tax (VAT), of between 7.5 and 12.5 per cent.
Yet the Brits are flocking in their increased numbers to the United States and especially to Florida where this compulsory added charge is common.
Certainly, in my personal experience, our tourism offering prices on Barbados compare very favourably with that American state and without doubt the culinary experiences here are largely a high higher and more delectable standard.
Yes! APD also applies on Florida flights from the UK, but the differential is only GBPounds 22 on return economy fares, which spread over a two week holiday would hardly determine final destination choice.
Some months ago, the issuance of an APD discount voucher to this market was announced, but again not implemented. But, judging by recent airline seat sales offering flights during the peak winter months of January, February and March of 2014, I somehow think our limited financial resources can be better spent.