Loveridge: We should spend our tourism marketing budget where it will do the most good.

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

According to figures released by the Barbados Statistical Service, January 2014 recorded the second highest long stay visitor arrivals from the United Kingdom in the last 12 years, with 18,134 persons.

Only January 2009 exceeded this number with 20,911 persons.

Having said this, there is still a mountain to climb especially if you look at the situation in perspective; this lone month has to take into account recent past performance.

In 2012 our single largest market registered a decline in every consecutive month of that year, ending with an overall fall of 15,631 stay-over visitors. 2013 finished with another 4,786 arrivals down over 2012.

So over the last two years we have already more than 20,000 ‘lost’ British visitors to make up for. February 2014 United Kingdom figures continued with what hopefully will be an ongoing trend with a 10.2 per cent increase when compared with the identical month a year ago.

Sadly though, the decline across other markets resulted in an overall fall, registering the lowest stay-over numbers for any February during the last 11 years. More than any, the second month of the calendar is often the barometer of whether the winter season is going to end successfully or not.

Brits and Europeans stay longer, spend more!

We know that the ‘Brits’ and Europeans stay longer, therefore it is reasonable to assume they spend more. Based on this knowledge, should we not be spending a larger proportion of precious marketing resources in this market?

The January ‘stats’ clearly show that price or the cost of the product can drive additional business as the majority of the increased numbers arrived on two British charter airlines, Thomson and Thomas Cook. In some cases seats with these carriers are half the price of what the scheduled airlines are charging, which can make all the difference for a family of four.

Once we get past next month it would appear that some of these additional flight options are not available for the softer summer months, so supply and demand will largely govern fare price levels.

Naturally everything must be done to protect the legacy airlines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, but is it time to revisit the possibility of targeted charters from airports other than Gatwick and Manchester?

Scotland, Ireland and other hopes

We are now just weeks away from Scotland’s referendum on 18th September. The Scottish Government has already pledged to reduce (initially by 50 per cent) and then possibly abolish the dreaded APD (Advance Passenger Duty) if there is a YES vote.

This would give their airports a distinct commercial advantage, for not just direct, but also connecting flights. British Airways, group CEO, Willie Walsh, has called this a possible ‘positive development’.

Hopefully discussions are already taking place with the decision makers of Norwegian Air who have recently relocated their long haul subsidiary to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, which in terms of airport capacity ranks as Europe’s tenth largest, carrying over 20 million passengers in 2013. Flights originating in Eire are also not subject to APD.

Norwegian will commence flights across the fiercely competitive transatlantic out of Gatwick in July and are expanding their fleet with an almost incredible order of 260 new aircraft. If they could be persuaded to fly a limited charter out of Dublin to Barbados, this would also help us build the prosperous largely recession-proof Scandinavian market with connecting flights plus open up the Baltic States.

And if there is a perceived capacity risk, then are we really too proud or myopic to share such a service with St. Lucia or Grenada on a triangular route?

3 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

3 responses to “Loveridge: We should spend our tourism marketing budget where it will do the most good.

  1. Anonymous

    I’ve been monitoring flight prices from the UK for a few weeks. I then received an email from a well known London Caribbean travel specialist saying we had won the battle to reduce air passenger duty from the UK to the Caribbean. Great I’ll book my flight then ! Lo and behold to travel the same dates leaving next month when they told me the duty has been reduced the cost has increased by £60 !!!! So who is ripping who off ?

  2. WSD

    Loveridge has been banging on this same old drum for 10 years or more and nobody listened. I think he was right and the BTA oldsters were wrong.

    Why do we keep spending so much in the USA when it never results in any new business? Why did we go to Brazil when Brazil has beautiful beaches and tourist attractions and no history of Brazilians wanting anything to do with Caribbean destinations? As much as some people hate the Brits, they are the bread and butter. Why not spend our marketing dollars where we see results?

    Loveridge was right.

  3. K. Murphy

    WSD-

    It is on rare occasion that I see any advertisement for Barbados in the US.
    In the past two years, the only advertisement I have seen for Barbados at all was on the sideline advertising electronic billboards of British Premier League Football Games. If there is a large amount of money being spent to try to reach Americans, someone should investigate exactly where that money is actually being spent. Perhaps BTA is targeting the wrong demographic ? I have visited Barbados 3 times in the past six years, each longer than the last, the last time we came over it was for three weeks.
    Americans do not generally get the amount of paid vacation time that
    people from some other countries enjoy.

    You are now competing with many other destinations that
    cost Americans just as much to Fly to, who are trying to attract the same travelers, I.E. Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, and now, even
    flights to Hawaii are comparable to the cost of a RT Flight to Bim.

    In most of the first world, a large amount of wealth is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Barbados likes to keep thinking that it can cater exclusively to this ever shrinking demographic. Soon you will , perhaps, have the 100 Wealthy Families from England coming to visit
    the West Coast each year, and not much else. Rising sea levels will create large problems for much of the West Coast in the next ten years – think about it.

    Have an excellent day.

    K. Murphy
    Philadelphia, USA
    (Who is missing the former direct flight from Philadelphia)