Barbados tourism industry having a wonderful year: lowest arrivals in a decade.

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

We are now midway through the peak winter tourism season and it is small wonder that the general populous becomes confused or even bemused when trying to monitor exactly how the industry is performing.

Especially when there are a number of proclamations emanating from our policymakers, who many may feel should be better informed.

Two of these recent utterings really stand out!

The first when a Minister of Government stated in the foreign press that we have had a good start to the season, when in fact December 2013 recorded the lowest long stay visitor arrivals for that month during the last eleven years.

Meanwhile, while accepting the numbers are down, the actual Minister of Tourism partially justifying the dismal sector performance by stating ‘value-added’ is up, totally contradicting the Governor of The Central Bank in his latest video report on our economic condition, who clearly revealed that factually, it is down.

If these incidents were rare or isolated, perhaps it could be just brushed off as possible journalistic misquoting, but the latest ones come after a long list of heady predictions that simply have not materialized.

Last year these included ‘a resounding success’, ‘upbeat about arrivals’ and ‘extremely strong’, when referring to Crop Over and July. Later in 2013, ‘it is already a November to remember’ and ‘November had been one of the best Barbados had seen in a while’.

In reality, both months set new records over the last decade for recording the lowest stay-over visitors for comparable periods.

Tourism interests are then left clambering to source accurate information on which to make educated choices and decisions.

And that’s when they are confronted by the next obstacle.

Agencies mandated with the responsibility of collecting and posting up-to-date data often take months to do so, and even then, as in the case of arrivals figures, some months are missed altogether.

So when the Leader of the Opposition contacted me and asked if I would speak at one of the current People’s Assembles series, there was no hesitation. Because any meaningful road to economic recovery will depend on the ability to make plans and implement policy based on informed knowledge, rather than guesswork and speculation.

Purely from a tourism perspective, I watched both the presentation by Ralph Taylor, a former BTA Chairman and Colin Jordan, immediate past President of the BHTA.

In their own way, critical concerns over the current state of the industry were raised and I liked particularly the way Mr. Jordan dealt with comments made by a serving Minister of Government, who charged that hoteliers on Barbados were either ‘begging’ or ‘beggars’.

Personally, I find even the suggestion grossly repugnant.

And it certainly does not fairly reflect the investment, dedication and hard work contributed by the vast majority of private sector partners over more than half a century.

Perhaps if there was a comparable commitment made by a single serving Cabinet member and they were spending their own monies, these cavalier and deeply offensive comments would not roll off their tongues so easily.

9 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

9 responses to “Barbados tourism industry having a wonderful year: lowest arrivals in a decade.

  1. Wuhloss!

    Why does Barbados keep coming off as amateurs in the tourist business when our economy has relied on that and little else for decades?

  2. Anonymous

    @Wuhloss!
    The answers are complacency, incompetent ministers, corruption.Just ask what the ROI for the tourist office in NY is, why is it even there?

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous,
    raises a very good point. The US had the lowest long stay visitor arrivals in 2013 for 11 consecutive years. How can the BTA justify having two offices in the United States (New York and Coral Gables), the lions share of the annual BTA budget and largest number of overseas staff and yet not register ANY overall growth for more than a decade?

  4. Anonymous

    So, Adrian Ms Mottley the leader of the official opposition have extended an invitation to you to speak at one of her so called People’s Assembly talking shops.
    It would be of interest to know if she is prepared to publicly admit that her party have also been a major contributor to the dire circumstances that the Barbados tourist industry finds itself in at present.
    Easy enough to berate and bad mouth the current incompetent DLP administration and the overpaid and wasteful time servers who populate its offices abroad as evidenced by the examples of the grossly non performing New York/ Coral Gables offices that you cite.
    Her lot had fourteen years to make better the so called Barbados Tourist Board/ Barbados Tourism Authority but did zilch to rectify the colossal and scandalous waste and the utter incompetence of this para statal unit.
    Rather they appeared to have stuffed it with their hangers on and yard fowls. Beware that you are not the shield their cower behind to throw rockstones at Stuart and his sorry crew

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous, I don’t disgree with a lot of what you have said. Neither party is blameless and you may re-call the Down to Brass Tacks programme that I appeared on with a former Minister of Tourism.

  6. BeeDeeWe

    Let’s not forget the torism industry may also be (and certainly is in my case) complicit to the low tourist arrivals. My fiance and I were hoping to have our nuptuials on the island and expected around 250 guests to attend, many of whom were visiting from the US and other Caribbean islands. Of the 10+ hotels we contacted, TWO responded – Sandy Lane which was far too expensive, and the Barbados Hiolton who couldn’t accomodate a party of our size. That’s not BLP, DLP or the BTA…it’s poor customer service! And frankly, until this pervasive parasite is fully addressed throughout the various Barbadian service industries, no manner of advertising, promoting or planning will help the Barbadian tourist industry recover from it’s current slide.

  7. yyztravelgal

    BeeDeeWe,it would appear that there’s more to your story.
    The Hilton could definitely hold 250 guests but not if they had another convention taking up most of their rooms.
    Also, I’m curious and hope you will share the names of the other properties that did not respond to your request.

  8. Anonymous

    @BeeDeeWe
    If you expect a quick, or indeed any, response to an email to ANY Bajan company you will be sorely disappointed.
    The state of Bajan e-commerce would shame any third world country.

    As an illustration of Barbados style “customer service”, we had a survey by Trowel Plastic to render the outside of our house. The rep came round the same day. We are still waiting for the quote 5 weeks later, business must be good for them!

  9. Anonymous

    Just to add, it is now midway through February. Someone should tell Tri Mart.
    http://www.cpostores.com/homeservicedelivery/index.htm