A brutal November for Barbados tourism statistics

20 straight months of decline!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

If there was a single phrase to describe this winter tourism season, I think it may be “great expectations”.

Despite all the wild speculation being made by tourism officials which included ‘this November has been one of the best Barbados had seen in a while’, the month in fact ended by recording the lowest long stay visitors for any November during the last 11 years. It also heralded 20 consecutive months of stay over visitor decline.

As this is the latest in a long line of unfulfilled predictions this year, it is time for our policymakers to focus more attention on what can be achieved, rather than drift into the realms of prophecy and conjecture.

I wonder just how much longer we can go on trying to justify rewarding failure.

So much is riding on the performance of our tourism sector over the next 120 plus days leading up until next Easter Monday on 22 April, not only in terms of occupancy, but in the critical role of trying to claw back lost revenue from the last almost two lean years.

In our key market, the United Kingdom, traditionally there is a booking surge when tour operators step up their promotional activities on Boxing Day. But one of the largest travel companies, Thomas Cook, pre-empted its competitors by launching a massive sale two weeks prior to Christmas to tempt the bargain hunters into commitment for summer 2014.

With the Brits still under economic pressure, those with stretched budgets will be tempted by the low holiday prices on offer. Inevitably this will help dilute demand for Barbados and other destinations not perceived as providing the very best value-for-money.

While there is very little we can do at this late stage to influence winter performance, it is going to be even more critical to launch some sort of ‘national’ programme that will drive business post Easter. And if the existing agencies like the Barbados Tourism Authority are unable or unwilling to fulfill their mandates due to budget restraints, then an alternative private sector marketing initiative has to be put in place.

As we end yet another year still without a tourism master plan and the vast majority of other ‘initiatives’ unfulfilled, including the ten point plan – that same worn phrase, ‘it cannot be business as usual’ simply cannot be regurgitated rhetoric for 2014.

‘The tourism plantocracy are at it again. When will we have one Barbados?

We need a group of people who will create a new revolution that will move us as a nation forward, instead of looking for ways of bleeding us.’

After reading these verbatim comments, I was left with an overwhelming feeling that those of us actively involved in the sector have done, over the years, a pretty dismal job of explaining the industry and the challenges we face.

Perhaps even more surprising – the person who uttered this provocative statement recently was no less than the former Deputy Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority – who personally had several years to put his ‘revolution’ in place. Could this be yet another example of not walking the walk, but just talking the talk?

23 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

23 responses to “A brutal November for Barbados tourism statistics

  1. Anonymous

    Stop charging exorbitant prices at Easter and I may reconsider and book a holiday in BIM

  2. BARBADOS TRIPADVISOR.COM

    watch and learn why barbados is the way it is.

  3. Sue

    We just returned from our annual Bim holiday. Granted, we only stay for 2 weeks but we do see the same guests year after year. Seems that might indicate some of us love Barbados. I will admit, the rates are steep ( we do not stay on the west coast) but we look forward to our trip each year

  4. mary

    This article is from Forbes;

    Browse list
    Barbados
    Barbados

    GDP
    $4 B As of December 2013

    Follow (0)
    At a Glance

    GDP Growth: 0.0%
    GDP/Capita: $15,600
    Trade Balance: -7.7%
    Population: .3 M
    Public Debt As % of GDP: 83%
    Unemployment: 11.6%
    Inflation: 4.8%

    Forbes Lists
    #73 Best Countries for Business

    23
    1

    0

    0

    0

    Profile

    Barbados is the wealthiest and most developed country in the Eastern Caribbean and enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. Historically, the Barbadian economy was dependent on sugarcane cultivation and related activities. However, in recent years the economy has diversified into light industry and tourism with about four-fifths of GDP and of exports being attributed to services. Offshore finance and information services are important foreign exchange earners and thrive from having the same time zone as eastern US financial centers and a relatively highly educated workforce. Barbados’ tourism, financial services, and construction industries have been hard hit since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008, which caused the economy to contract 4% in 2009 and grow below 1% annually since 2010. Barbados’ public debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 56% in 2008 to 83% in 2012.

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

    mary Says@ now remove land sales , this was one big for exchange rate income , that was base and is fraud,

    Forbes dont know or dont care about the massive fraud to add to there numbers, Unless many of them now own part of the fraud them self.

    What Minister was caught looking to take money out of Barbados? What is his Name.?

  6. old

    I’m so fed-up with AL-small hotel owner always complaining…I’m fed-up at being always told how well Barbados is doing when compared to the other islands. The facts are that Bardados is broke……the island is full of pen-pushers when what it really needs are doers….The Bardados holiday, long or short, is far too expensive.

  7. Robert Ross

    BFP

    Thankyou for the Christmas format.

  8. Richard Johnston

    Here’s a small illustration of Barbados’s élitism that is self-defeating. I have been visiting for 25 years but my partner’s first stay was last year. He loved the country, the people and the food, but has no intention of ever returning. You see, while I am American he is from Hong Kong, and because Barbados unlike the US, Canada, the EU and … St. Lucia, treats him as Chinese, which he is not, and requires him to get a visa to enter. Presumably the Chinese government has pressured Barbados so as to penalize Hong Kong for selfish political reasons.

    Simple solution? Go to the consulate on Second Avenue here in New York, pay US$100 and surrender your HK passport for 2 weeks so you have no identity document in case something happens, go back to pick it up after it has gone all the way to Bridgetown to be handled. For one visit.

    Worse: we were considering buying property there until we were told that even ownership does not convey visa-waiver status. You can’t tell me investors from the PRC have to get visas. It is narrow-minded and insulting among other things to require visitors from a very rich city of 7.2 million to humiliate themselves and beg to be allowed into your country. We are looking instead at St. Lucia. Having been ignored when I wrote the minister of tourism about this issue we will probably never return. I say this is stupid and self-destructive.

  9. old_CT

    Try getting into NY or Hong Kong with a Bajan passport……try spending th $Bds in either of these locations……

  10. BFP

    You are very welcome Robert.

    Merry Christmas!

    Cliverton

  11. iabingy

    NOW ESPECIALLY NOW! REMEMBER THIS AND THINK CAREFULLY WHAT YOU ARE CELEBRATING.—————————-
    Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionist will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinth 6:9-10

  12. yatinkiteasy

    @iabingy…shit, that rules out 99 per cent of us!

  13. yatinkiteasy

    @ Richard Johnston..besides, buggery is illegal in Barbados.Bah Humbug!

  14. Anonymous

    We can deal with hypocrisy but not with the minster of immigration. yatinkiteasy.

  15. 16lizzie1

    When I am asked what Barbados is like I reply truthfully, it is a beautiful island, safer than most places, so long as you act sensibly, but unfortunately, authority seem to not like certain visitors, without giving good reason. They ask “why”, to this I cannot reply, and am asked why I do not travel to other parts of the World were they welcome you with open arms. This I find very upsetting especially when I have interests on the island.

    The comments which IABINGY raises, stating are from the Bible, are thvery insulting. Believe it or not, not everyone who visits the island comes for these reasons, most come to see their very good friends, who in times of trouble can be turned to and rekindle flames with past and future acquaintances. I, therefore, ask myself, WHAT IS GOING ON!

  16. Richard Johnston

    Labigny, let’s assume I do not care to inherit the kingdom of god. Does that leave me free to live my life as I see fit?

  17. Harold

    What about the cruise sector AL? Reports are is its up by 20% for November . The cruise ship passengers who are coming in their thousands don’t count? The cruisers arrival figures aren’t brutal they are pleasant and good for Barbados..

    Richard Johnson wrote he is looking at St. Lucia. Unfortunately St. Lucia not looking too good since Christmas Eve.

  18. Anonymous

    Harold, I do not include cruise passengers for the reason we simply do not have sufficient informed information regarding arrivals. You also have to realise that of all the discrectionary spending made by cruise passengers, it is estimated that 80 per cent is made onboard and only 20 per cent onshore.

  19. Adrian Loveridge

    Above comments were made by me.

  20. Anonymous

    @AR – Having taken quite a few cruises I can safely say that
    just about each and every port area has the same thing for sale.
    The only difference is a T-Shirt showing a different island. Just
    how many Rolex’s etc can a person buy !

  21. Ronnie

    Hi Adrian!
    Unless a certain hotel reopens we will only be spending 2 nights in Barbados this coming year and that’s only to relax before a cruise.
    We live in Scotland and have seen adverts in the local newspapers and TV for a few places in Caribbean but not Barbados. We also get the monthly editions of ‘NG travel ‘and other mags like ‘Wanderlust’ but no adverts for Barbados. Even St Helena a very remote island in the middle of nowhere seems to advertise more than the Barbados Tourist Offices. What exactly do these offices do?
    We have a friend who works for a large travel firm you have mentioned, but they are not pushing Barbados as a destination as its not worth it … its too expensive and customers will not book it. I just priced a fortnights holiday in Barbados, all inclusive with flights included, and it worked out that I could get 2 holidays in the Cape Verde Islands, all inclusive, adults only with flights for the price of one holiday in Barbados. Let me think…….. 2 holidays this year or one ….for the same money?????

  22. Adrian Loveridge

    Ronnie, Great to hear from you. Sadly the Barbados Tourism Authority has been severely challenged with a reduced budget, so very limited advertising. There is very little we can do to lower costs without Government help and while Sandals have just been granted unprecedented and extraordinary concessions, this will further erode any competitive advantage unless other hotels are granted the same.
    We certainly cannot blame you for looking for value-for-money. We do exactly the same when considering a holiday.
    Best regards to you both and new cats.

  23. The Fan

    Ronnie said “We live in Scotland and have seen adverts in the local newspapers and TV for a few places in Caribbean but not Barbados”.

    I was watching Premiership game this evening Arsenal v Chelsea and saw Barbados advertised big time on the perimeter boards. Must say it looked extremely impressive. I’m told a billion people around the world watch the Premiership.
    Ronnie from Scotland do you watch BPL, its the most watched spectacle in Britain, not so?