Barbados government punished 5,000 hotel rooms to reward Sandals’ 280 rooms. Wise tourism strategy or not?

“When you look across the state of our entire tourism industry perhaps the closest comparison can be made with Rome burning while Nero played the fiddle in A.D. 64.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Even if the repeatedly broken promises confirming that all registered hotels will qualify for the same concessions given to Sandals last year came into practical effect this week, it is now far too late for the vast majority of properties to make any meaningful use of them this year, at least in terms of major upgrading.

Whether it was Government’s honest intention or not, Sandals look like they will re-open with an enhanced quality product advantage in late January 2015 that virtually every other hotel cannot hope to compete with.

Again, it’s important to repeat that like most other tourism businesses we welcome the group’s arrival and in the long term hope that it will drive additional investment and upgrading on a level playing field.

Despite the continued speculation about added airlift, it simply will not happen until the Beaches property is hopefully completed in a yet indeterminate number of years from now. The short term reality is that we have lost a potential 25,000 airline seats in the interim reconstruction period.

That would not have happened if the former Casuarina/Couples hotel had remained open.

Only time will tell if punishing around 5,000 rooms, while rewarding just 280 will prove to be a sustainable long term solution to the overall industry challenges. 

In hindsight it’s perhaps easy to see how this situation developed.

The trappings of a private corporate jet, a luxury yacht, well oiled and orchestrated publicity machine with seemingly impressive amounts of money running into tens of millions being mentioned almost every day.

It was a tantalising and perhaps almost impossible option to resist in the current economic climate.

When you look across the state of our entire tourism industry perhaps the closest comparison can be made with Rome burning while Nero played the fiddle in A.D. 64. Seventy percent of the ‘eternal’ city was destroyed, but it enabled the Emperor to re-build the capital in a style that he preferred. Of course someone had to be blamed and Nero chose the Christians who were ruthlessly rounded up, tortured and killed.

Perhaps in a modern day context those victims should be more fairly compared with the disadvantaged ‘other hoteliers’.

I wonder how many other industry observers cracked a wry smile when the Minister of Finance was reported as saying ‘we (seem to) live in an instant coffee society: everybody wants everything done now’.

Using the same analogy clearly the ‘espresso’ concessions extracted by Mr. Stewart escaped the beverage scenario.

So without, what could amount to additional reinvestment in the entire remaining accommodation sector, we are yet another year away from upgrading existing plant. Personally I cannot understand why our policymakers while recognising they cannot provide ‘instant’ solutions but seriously expect us to.

The danger lurks that yet further tour operators will withdraw more programmes from Barbados, while transferring them to lower cost destinations to meet the more realistic expectations of their clients.

It’s a perfectly natural progression… You go where your source of business can obtain the best value-for-money with the least possible financial risk.

8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

8 responses to “Barbados government punished 5,000 hotel rooms to reward Sandals’ 280 rooms. Wise tourism strategy or not?

  1. Sir, can I have more please!

    There must be more about this story. Why would our government give so many concessions to just one business? Something stinks.

  2. BOOKWORM

    @Sir, can I have more please!
    No shit, Sherlock!

  3. Citizen who cares

    Off topic but how can a gun slinging youngster be on bail from a murder/shooting charge now be hunted down and charged by the police for another murder. The judge, magistrate whoever permitted his bail in the first place should have some important questions to answer. This is not good enough. Lives are being violently cut short as a result.

  4. Wily Coyote

    @SIR

    One word explains your question “CORRUPTION”

  5. Mr Coco

    I wouldnt walk across the street to spit on Sandals.

  6. My Time

    The hoteliers / tourism ancillary services & guest who visit this island are the biggest supporters of this little economy. It is time all the people on this blog come to understand this. The government seems to have figured it out as they recognise they have no other choices as other sources of foreign exchange diminish (a la offshore banking sector etc). The facts are, no new persons are really willing to invest in hotels in this island (unless they get the big handout that Sandals / Beaches got to come in). Otherwise, they would be buying up hotels and expanding – Sandals / Beaches is doing that because they got a sweet deal – that was a no brainer for them – they will make boat loads of money without having to pay taxes like the rest of we!!! But the same DLP who promised not to sell out our country to foreigners sees no problem in selling us out now.

    What will Barbados really get for it? An ad in the Toronto paper with Barbados on it as reported above. When they opened the new hotel in Grenada last year the Toronto paper also had an ad in it before opening and it said the same thing as the Barbados ad with the word Grenada on it. After that 1 ad it went all to Sandals across the Caribbean advertising never to see a Grenada ad again! BIG deal for Barbados though – to get 1 full page ad in the Toronto press – is that what our taxes bought! Or at least that is what our tourism officials will tell you soon on the radio – Sandals will save Barbados with their advertising. Really how can intelligent people be so dumb.

    Barbados needs a master tourism plan that speaks to all areas – hotels / ancillary services / areas where guest frequent / nightlife / crime and finally the people – yes, our attitudes need to change – there are a lot of people who do not understand how important tourism is to this society and they are destroying it – from the harassers / bums / thief’s & all that think using every cuss word in public is cool especially in front the foreigners.

  7. Party Animal

    MY TIME…..can you really find intelligent people in these times ?

  8. Rob

    actually the Globe and Mail across Canada a week or so ago had a FULL page Ad by Sandals advertising their opening this January including free airfare up to some value. It indicated all inclusive and numerous restaurants plus water sports et etra. It will attract those who have no issues with costs and the question is will it still cause others to think about Barbados as a vacation sport at a less expensive location on the Island.. Perhaps ,, One thing for sure , when winter comes, people are looking for a warm spot so the competition of islands and there locations becomes tough. Couple that with Airfare, cruise costs, Hotel and food and entertainment , it is not that easy. Make them welcome , they will spend more than you think as that is the final analysis after a long flight. Hope things get better