Barbados Ministry of Tourism lacks a functional website. Like running a business without hanging up a sign.

Sometimes you just want to scream!

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Should we as a sector or in fact a nation, be overly concerned that the Ministry of Tourism has not had a functional website for months?

In this time when both foreign and local investment is absolutely critical to upgrading existing plant and product, what sort of message are we sending when a default statement ‘This site is temporarily unavailable’ is the response that greets potential users of the portal?

For those non-nationals not familiar with how things work on Barbados it could also be the first point of reference and a vital source of information, including contact details for the Minister, Parliamentary and Permanent Secretary together with other heads of department that may facilitate any possible investor’s plans. It should also provide important links to other agencies, both public and private to help facilitate seamless access to enable informed decision making.

Frankly, from a prospective overseas investment perspective you are currently forced to plough through a multitude of websites. And that’s even assuming you actually know the names of the many agencies involved, which is highly unlikely unless you have intimate local knowledge.

If there was ever a legitimate call for a single ‘one-stop-shop’ then this is a prime example.  There’s always a shortage of cash, so what are the priorities?

Yes! We all know Government is cash strapped, but what in the scheme of things, with a sector generating nearly $2 billion annually and the taxes that provides, does it cost to maintain a website?

If it cannot be done internally, then outsource the task. There must be hundreds of tech-savvy single parents with all the required expertise out there who would warmly welcome the opportunity of home based additional revenue.

It is also absolutely vital that ‘we’ portray the destination as a vibrant player in an internationally competitive arena, where just about everybody is attempting to eat our lunch, let alone breakfast and dinner as well. The danger is that if ‘we’ make it far too difficult, complicated and confusing to invest in existing and new tourism ventures that any available capital will find a much more user friendly home elsewhere.

Few reasonable people expect Government to do everything, but it must at least provide a transparent template to foster economic growth and channel interested parties in a direction that ensures the best chance of success.

Following a number of what can only be described as recent frustrating consumer experiences, I have been advocating that every manager (or in this particular case our national policymakers) becomes a ‘customer’ for a day and imagine that they are investing their own personal funds in a tourism project.

I am absolutely convinced that this would help transform the way business is conducted on Barbados in the future. At first hand they would witness the mountain of barriers and impediments deterring entrepreneurial spirit that anyone faint-hearted and without the tenacity of a bulldog is simply overwhelmed to the point of failure or overcome by a state of lassitude.

19 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Offshore Investments

19 responses to “Barbados Ministry of Tourism lacks a functional website. Like running a business without hanging up a sign.

  1. Jaxjo

    It is sad. Barbados seems unwilling or incapable of moving into the digital age.businesses are slow to answer emails, very few businesses are on the web..they may have a page, but nothing else. I applaude Carter’s for making this step forward. Where the world is moving forward there is so much “talk” in Barbados, but very little action. It sends very poor message to potential tourists.

  2. Sean Chandler

    Adrian, there is no shortage of local web businesses (some with 15 year’s experience in the industry) that could design, develop and host an effective website for the BTA.

    In fact, when I started my first web business in Barbados in 1997, we offered to do just that at no cost to the BTA – we never even got a meeting.

    And frankly, I would not want that job now, with all the baggage that it’s sure to come with.

  3. Adrian Loveridge

    Sean, I agree and in fact had a meeting yesterday which included updating the BTA website. It is currently under consideration. I believe we have all the expertise and product knowledge here and we certainly don’t have to travel to Kansas.

  4. yatinkiteasy

    They are an entire waste of time and money…a bunch of blundering, bobbling idiots who could never get a job in the private sector because they are lazy and incapable of any creative or meaningful action. Talk , meetings and trips…thats it…no action…a total waste of taxpayers money.

  5. Peter Quinlan

    I completly agree. Barbados in this respect looks like an African “Banana Republic” with regards to many of the government websites, most notably the visitbarbados.com site, which doesn’t seem to be updated regularly. I’m from Newfoundland Canada & when I went to have info sent to me the site did not even have Newfoundland listed as a Canadian province ( it had all the others). It took me 2 years to get this changed! So someone is definitely asleep at the wheel. So needless to say it does not surprise me to find out that other government websites are also lacking professionalism & up-to-date information. It is vitally important for government to keep these sites current & relevant as the first ” point of entry” is not Grantly Adams; instead it is info provided on the government websites!

  6. Party Animal

    yatinkiteasy You can’t be talking about our Government, the one we voted for twice knowing they were useless in the first term, sorry , did not know what they are doing in the first place.

  7. rastaman

    As usual ,money talks.

  8. CJB

    TripAdvisor is the web site to go to – period.

  9. yatinkiteasy

    Party Animal..”we” did not vote for them..”they” did.

  10. NYCBGI

    Stop the stupidity of trying o make excuses for the BTA. The real dilemma is that the BTA and ministry is just not able to digest the travel and hospitality world. Case in point is the recent Formula One race that brought in the top racing drivers in the world with their teams and cars.Louis Hamilton who is from Granada and the world number one driver and others had a blast. Wow why was that event blasted on the web and other social media. look at the worldwide fans who flock to the Formula One races, how many came to BGI not even a hundred i bet, why ask the BTA for the excuse, Enough said!

  11. Sean, you stole my thunder. There are many young entrepreneurs in Barbados who would love to build awareness for their brand and would volunteer their time in exchange for recognition. The talent pool is deep but it needs the support of the local agencies. The BEF has an initiative to see Barbados poised as the entrepreneurial hub of the world by 2020. This will only be possible if the entrepreneurial spirit in the island is truly supported at all levels. You can read more about the BEF initiative as part of an interview I conducted on the free Wi-Fi program for the Bimoo app.

    http://bimoonews.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/surfing-the-free-wi-fi-wave/

  12. drumbeat

    Government are never very good at “sales and marketing”, look at the sugar industry ! Signing big agreements for the cameras is more their thing.

  13. Marvin Bareback

    The Barbados Revenue Authority or the Tax Department also has a loser of website…….in the “contact us” section, the email address has a Sunbeach.net DNS that hasn’t been operable for over 2 years. Plus they have a section that says “tax help hotline coming soon” that has been unchanged for 5 years now. We are only left to wonder what soon really means to anyone in the government…..just don’t hold your breath.

  14. Your kidding?

    “The BEF has an initiative to see Barbados poised as the entrepreneurial hub of the world by 2020”

    LMAO Under whose leadership?

  15. BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

    who is this person?

  16. BARBADOSADVISOR ACTUAL

    14x 22 miles of world wid hub . man you making me fall down laughing. dreamers and idiots.

  17. Sean O'Halloran

    Adrian
    I enjoy reading your posts and often agree with your ideas. I have to take exception on this one though.
    Barbados is so far behind in digital terms that group of well meaning tech savvy single parents is unlikely to have the solution.
    Getting officials to step into the shoes of customers and experience the frustration of trying to access Barbados digitally is a very good idea. But in order to move ahead, and create value for Barbados and for users, requires expertise in user and business research, requirements gathering, digital strategy, content planning, information architecture, visual design and technical development for the mobile era (responsive design). And then a plan for engaging various audience types via on page and social content.
    This cannot be done in house. It would be great if a local agency could be supported to build a team with the necessary breadth of skills to take this forward, iteratively, over say a 12-24 month period, picking off one dysfunctional public site after the other and either closing them down or turning them into useful online services.
    There is a very successful model in the UK where the Gov hired a very small team of experts to define the challenge and scale up over the last few years to redesign digital public services. That very small team has now grown to hundreds of talented, motivated, delivery focused people. It’s a model that Barbados could adopt. It would pay for itself in no time, provide much needed local jobs and new skills that are directly relevant to the future.

  18. Adrian Loveridge

    Sean, I agree with virually everything you said. I probably did not express myself very well, but my thoughts behind the tech-savvy single parents were that they would maintain the site rather than build it. When you have a moment look at http://www.visitbarbados.org (our ‘national’ tourism marketing site and see just how many things are wrong or do not work properly.

  19. Sean O'Halloran

    Hi Adrian
    I know that site well. Any many others too. I built a house in Barbados which I still own and so have reason (and of course a vested interested) on wanting better digital services on island.
    I also run a digital agency in London so know both the complexity of overhauling online public services and the phenomenal value that can be created by doing so. Value that is both tangible (reduced costs, reduced complaints, increased engagement) and intangible (improved brand perception and customer satisfaction).
    This is a topic on which I have thought and debated many times. In the digital realm it can sometimes be an (albeit counter-intuitive) advantage to be the last mover to modernise. It offers the opportunity to avoid the mistakes made by others and cherry pick the very latest best practices, emerging consumer adoption insights and technical advancements.
    With the right support and attitude, Barbados could make a step change in how it delivers digital services so that it both creates and derives substantial value from the improving broadband infrastructure and the fact that so many people on the island use a mobile (cel) phone.
    With the right commitment form enough stakeholders, Barbados could ‘jump the shark’ and develop simple, elegant, usable digital services that everyone would appreciate – citizens and visitors alike.