Why does the Barbados Tourism Authority spend so much money in the USA… for such disastrous results?

“For the first eight months of 2013, American stay-over arrivals look even more depressing – recording declines in every single month – so far totaling 9,933 less visitors and already eradicating any microscopic gains made over the entire last five years.”

BTA’s spending makes no sense!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Frankly I have never understood the seemingly illogical apportionment of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) annual budget and the ways it has been spent across our principal tourism markets.

The United States stands out as a vivid example…

In the five years 2003-2007, we welcomed 654,281 American long stay visitors. For the same duration 2008-2012, that number (661,646) grew by a minuscule 7,365 persons or an increase of just 1.1 per cent, which barely represents an incremental annual average of 0.2 per cent.

During that same second period, our neighbour, St. Lucia, recorded a 4.6 per cent improvement of US arrivals. Hardly spectacular, but with all those throwing their hands up in the air while shouting “APD (Advanced Passenger Duty), recession, global economic meltdown” and all the other possible excuses… St. Lucia’s 4.6 per cent is nothing to be ashamed of.

What continues to be puzzling is why ‘we’ continue to spend the lion’s share of the BTA budget in the US market, without being able to achieve a meaningful return on ‘our’ investment. More overseas offices, staff, airline subsidies, the legendary per diem and other expenses – more than any other major source, but little or nothing to show for it!

For instance, compare the exact same period with Canada, which grew by 35 per cent (87,339 extra arrivals) or an average of 7 per cent per annum.

The imminent withdrawal of American Airlines on the New York route is just one part of the problem. Yes! Our policymakers are scrabbling around trying to find alternative carriers to meet the loss of seats, but what exactly is the plan to fill them? 

Is it time to consider closing the prime location Second Avenue New York office to save the considerable operating costs associated with it?

The savings could then be spent on hard marketing to drive additional numbers and any displaced, but productive, staff redeployed.

Could everything then be centralised in Coral Gables (Florida) where American Airlines continue to operate direct flights from Miami to Barbados?

Also of concern must be the decision back in 2009, following a  four month review, to award a Kansas based advertising agency, then called MMG Worldwide, an US$8 million three year contract. Possibly, influencing the final choice was the company’s stated expertise in the travel and hospitality industries.

Clearly, at least in the US market, they have not been able to make a substantive difference and that surely by itself must call for an urgent evaluation.

On reflection it might have been better to have selected a smaller more results-orientated agency, rather than a huge multi-location mission statement driven entity – which clearly could not respond with the speed necessary to maximize on the many lost opportunities.

Of course, there may well be justifiable reasons behind this non-performance (which could include the financial challenges facing the BTA), but that makes it more critical that any promotions undertaken are entirely cost-effective.

For the first eight months of 2013, American stay-over arrivals look even more depressing – recording declines in every single month – so far totaling 9,933 less visitors and already eradicating any microscopic gains made over the entire last five years.

It would appear yet again, the heady predictions of this year ending flat were woefully optimistic.

11 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

11 responses to “Why does the Barbados Tourism Authority spend so much money in the USA… for such disastrous results?

  1. fred

    It isn’t the budget, its the island – growing crime rates and a growing urban and suburban blight make Barbados a less attractive holiday destination.

  2. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2013 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    We did not see not one word of Barbados on tv nor radio , but we did get fax over the machine for other places to visit , advertisements ,We saw nothing on the WHEEL OF FORTUNE ,
    TO MUCH FRAUD MAN , PEOPLE CAN GET ROB AT HOME , WHY SPEND MONEY TO GET ROB BY LAWYERS SELLING LAND THEY DONT EVEN OWN.

  3. Anonymous

    Sealy will be along shortly to lambast you for suggesting that the BTA IS LESS THAN gODLIKE.

  4. Anonymous

    Must learn to press the Caps Lock !!!!

  5. D Oracle.

    They spend so much money in the USA because they have personal bank accounts there….nothing new.

  6. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926 TO 2013 , MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS OF BARBADOS, BLPand DLP=Massive Fruad

    D Oracle.
    December 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm @ How you know so good. ? So true , but Basel 3 will catch them new banking rules .Source of FUNDS will be questions ask from now on very soon.

  7. K. Murphy

    Adrian-
    Greetings from Philadelphia, USA,
    where we used to have a direct flight to Bim,
    but now have to go through North Carolina.

    In the past two years, the Only advertising I have seen in the US
    relative to Barbados was while watching English Premier League
    games on TV, where the Barbados advertisements flash on the electronic
    billboards at the field level near the players.
    Perhaps there is more money spent in NY.
    Apparently, there is no money being spent in Philadelphia,
    maybe because there is no longer a flight?
    I wonder if there is money being spent in North Carolina,
    as the Barbados flights have moved there?
    Someone must be absconding with the money,
    as there are no adverts here, sorry to report.

    Peace.

  8. repeat visitor

    flights aren’t the only problem the barbados.org website is also in need of a revamp and update — for example, it shows the cassandra apts. in speightstown which were torn down last winter…what if you wanted to book there????

  9. Adrian Loveridge

    While the Barbados Statistical Service still have not published the tourism arrival figures for August, September and October 2013, Bloomberg have reported the long stay visitor arrivals for October 2013, which are the LOWEST for that month during the last 11 years.

    It is now 19 consecutive months of stay-over visitor decline.

  10. Getagrip

    Check out all the visitor statistics at this link. Barbados visitors down 6.7% – worst in the Caribbean, apart from Martinique. Some of the monthly stats are horrific. Heads should roll
    http://www.onecaribbean.org/wp-content/uploads/Lattab13.pdf

  11. D Oracle.

    Money is being stolen by this Gov’t left, right and center…look at 4 Seasons being “sold” to Jada despite higher offers…THE THEFT OF TOURISM FUNDS BY MINISTERS BEING GOING ON FOR YEARS, NOTHING NEW.