Does Barbados have a problem in Atlanta, Georgia?

“I have always thought if we cannot entice 320 new visitors (two full B737-800 aircraft) a week out of a population of six million who live within an hour’s drive of Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport, then we have a problem.”

November tourism stats will tell all!

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

November, I believe, will be the first litmus test month of whether or not any changes that have been taking place over this year in the marketing of Barbados will indicate any recovery of long stay visitor numbers to our shores.

November 2013 recorded a total of 42,690 stay-over arrivals, which was the lowest for that month during the last 11 years. Three out of four major markets showed a decline, USA down 745, Canada down 49 and the UK down 56 persons.

2014 heralds the hosting of the fifth Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and by now there should be some effective way of measuring if this event has been growing sufficiently to ensure that the promotion funds ‘invested’ are producing a justifiable return on investment.

Clearly overall arrival numbers do not indicate this, or if they are, then it’s to the detriment of other periods of the month.

From next month Delta Airlines return from Atlanta and operate a new route from JFK/New York. These flights will provide an additional seating capacity of 640 passengers per week alone.

Air Canada will shortly change aircraft type to B777 on the Toronto service which adds over 1,000 seats each week if comparing with the smaller A319.

“Based on December 2013 arrivals figures (51,027 across all markets), which again were the lowest for that month in eleven consecutive years we need to record a near 37 per cent increase solely out of North America during December 2014, if we stand any hope of filling those extra seats.”

And that is before we even look at any added capacity that JetBlue or WestJet may have scheduled and a third weekly Montreal flight. 

It is a very ambitious objective based on recent past performance and perhaps all is being gambled on the re-opening of Sandals possibly in late January 2015, which could fill about one third of the expanded volume, if every one of their guests originate from Canada/ United States, and that simply is not going to happen.

Of course not every additional passenger will be a stay-over visitor, as you have to allow for visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and in-transit traffic travelling to neighbouring islands.

So you then have to think what the likely cost to the taxpayer will be for any un-sold seats, as I am sure the operating airlines will not carry losses for any sustained period.

What is the plan?

With no new national marketing initiative currently on the table, what is likely to generate higher numbers?

Since my first visit years ago when I spent a week driving around Greater Atlanta studying the demographics, I have always thought if we cannot entice 320 new visitors (two full B737-800 aircraft) a week out of a population of six million who live within an hour’s drive of Hartsfield airport, then we have a problem.

And that’s ignoring the fact that it is presently the busiest airport in the world with unmatched connecting flight possibilities.

Surely we have the collective promotional ability and expertise to ensure that this third attempt does not end again in failure!

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17 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

17 responses to “Does Barbados have a problem in Atlanta, Georgia?

  1. NYCBGI

    ADRIAN GET REAL WITH BTA NO REAL PLAYBOOK AND PLAN IN PLACE THE RESULT MAY BE AS DISMAL AS THE PAST. THE LITMUS TEST IS TO HAVE PRIMED THE PUMP 6 TO 8 MONTHS AGO WITH HOTELS OFFERING WEEKEND AND EXTRA NIGHT SPECIALS UNTIL THE WINTER RATE CHANGE, FOR EXAMPLE THIS WEEKEND IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF SUCH BECAUSE NOV 11 IS A US NATIONAL HOLIDAY, FRIDAY OR SAT DEPARTURE WITH A NOV 11TH RETURN WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT BECAUSE PAX WOULD TAKE 1 DAY MONDAY MISSING WORK AND ENJOY B GI, SUN AND FUN BEFORE THE WINTER SETS IN AND AFTER HURRICANE SEASON . JUST AN EXAMPLE OF KNOWING THE MARKETPLACE, TWO WEEKS IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO KNOW THE MARKETPLACE

  2. BadBob

    Adrian, If Delta cannot fill the planes to Barbados next month-and into the New Year- it will only be because of the poor marketing on the part of Delta AND Barbados Tourism. Those of us in the Atlanta area have had the choice of USAirways on a direct from Charlotte and of course the usual AA thru Miami [a well known Hell Hole for transit]. USAir/American are now joined and you have little choice but to pass thru the rectum known as MIA. I have been taking my family to BIM for years & the sheer dread of Miami [nearly] puts me off. I will book four of us for sometime in the spring & look forward to Delta [once again].
    I would hope that someone informs the BTA that a few dollars spent in the SouthEast [excluding Miami!] that Barbados is the place to go-you will see continuing flights from Atlanta.

  3. NYCBGI

    BAD BOB LOTS OF LUCK

  4. BadBob

    I know!
    But I can dream & pray.

  5. NYCBGI

    WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN IS TO FOR SOMEONE IN BGI HAS TO BEFIN A YOUTH AND ADULT PROTEST AS WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN NYC.HK LONDON AND OTHER DESTINATIONS AROUND THE WORLD TO SHAKE THE BGI GOVERNMENTUP FROM THE PM ON DOWN. IF NOT THE SAME OLD STUPIDITY WILL CONTINUE, LOOK 20 YEARS AGO PAA WAS FLYING A 747 DURING CROOPOVER AND I WAS SENDING 500 TO 600 PEOPLE AND NYC CHANNELS WERE FILMING THE EVENTS. YOU HAD MARKLEY WILSON BTA NY OFFICE IN CHARGE DROVE THE MESSAGE TO BARBADOS IS THE PLACE TO BE ON VACATION, WHEN HE LEFT TOURISM HAS SLOWLY DRIFTED DOWN TO A LOW POINT IT IS NOW. ITS TIME TO REVAMP THE BTA OR FORGET TOURISM IN ITS PRESENT FORM.. SORRY TO BE SO NEGATIVE BUT ITS THE TRUTH AND THE PM NEEDS TO KICK SOME BEHINDS .

  6. Mr Coco

    Adrian: If it makes you feel any better I will be visiting Bim in november.

  7. Adrian Loveridge

    Mr CoCo, much better. Every person counts and every repeat visitor counts even more. I hope that you will take full advanatage of our re-DISCOVER programme – http://www.re-discover.com

  8. Real Talk

    We love Barbadians in the diaspora but some of them cry wolf with regard to flights. The Bajan- Atlantans ought to make a concerted push to fill the planes to keep the Delta service viable. You cant expect the airlines and the tourist board to do it alone unless the flights are free then everybody will fly home. Bajans in the diaspora do promote their homeland but they have to agitate more of their friends, work mates and so on hop aboard the flights. There is an incentive program Family and Friends where they are rewards for doing such. Use it. Don’t take the Loveridge route and criticize, moan, criticize. Take action. Look on the positive side and get involved to fill the flights. Bajans at home love to see their diaspora relatives in town. So done with the long talk and agitate all those around you to visit Barbados, go the extra mile to ensure they do.

  9. BadBob

    Real Talk, With all due respect, I don’t believe that Adrian is criticizing & moaning. He is simply bringing to everyone’s attention the problem with getting people to visit BIM. Unless “We’ find out that there are options and opportunities to fly down to Barbados [and the price AND connection is right], it ain’t going to happen. Right now, I can fly ATL to Aruba in December for $400-450. BGI will cost me $600-900 or more [and, God help me, I may have to go thru Miami]. If four of us go to Aruba in December-I will have $800 extra in walkin’ around money. That’ll buy me a lot of rum and cigars. Now the plan is still to come back to Barbados in the spring-because I enjoy my time there-in-spite of Adrian [just a gentle poke at ya, Adrian]. So if you want visitors, tell the relatives to get with the program-but also tell the crew at BTA to get off their morbidly obese backsides and work with Delta to offer some incentives.

  10. NYCBGI

    YOU MENTION ARUBA BUT FAIL TO MENTION THAT ARUBA’S GROWTH IS NOT FROM NATIVES COMING BACK HOME. IT IS BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW TO MARKET ,HAVE 100% EMPLOYMENT ON A ARID ISLAND WITH A OIL SAND GOLF COURSE/ AND THE SAME BEAUTIFUL BEACHES AS BARBADOS. GAMBLING HELPS BUT THEY DON’T DEPEND ON NOTHING BUT VISITORS NOT NATIVES COMING HOME. COMING HOME IS 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY THINKING AND BGI BTA NEED TO STOP THAT THAT WILL HELP SOLVE THE PROBLEM, BAJANS COMING HOME DON’T SPEND LIKE VISITORS DO AND WILL NOT AS WELL. MY COMMENTS ARE NOTHING BUT HOPEFULLY CONSTRUCTIVE. TAKE THE BLINDERS OFF AND LOOK AT THE COMPETITION AS WELL AS INTROSPECTION. ONE LAST COMMENTS THAT WHEN A CRUISE SHIP ARRIVES WHY IS NOT EVERY HOTELIER DON’T TO MEET AND GREET INVITING TO THEIR PROPERTY IN ORDER TO SEE WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO ENJOY AT A RESORT RATHER THAN SLEEP IN A CUBBY HOLE AND GAIN 10 POUNDS. NEXT FREE TIP WILL COST. I

  11. BadBob

    Excellent comment about cruise ships, NYC. My cousin & his wife went on a cruise to the Caribbean a few years ago. Second port of call, my cousin said: “F*** this S***.” He went to the airport, bought a ticket home [Minneapolis] and gave the Mrs the option of flying home or hanging out in steerage. She stayed for the rest of the trip-but he swore he would never do the ship thing again. Point being, sell the island to the Cruisers, take them on a tour, show them the options in hotels, the beaches, food..The whole deal. The cruise ship may be something people want to do [seven islands in seven days] but let them see something of BIM other than the cruise ship terminal. Next trip-maybe they’ll come down for a week or more.

  12. Mr Coco

    Adrian: thanks for the reply and the link. Have a good one.

  13. NYCBGI

    ADRIAN GOOD JOB AND ATTRACTIVE PRESENTATION WELL DONE. NOW IF I WAS IN NYC OR WASHINGTON SC THAT A GOOD DEAL AND I WOULD NOT TRAVEL TO BGI FOR THAT MEAL OPTION. LOOK AT FRIDAY NIGHT AT OISTINS . ONE SUGGESTION WOULD BE TO WEAVE THAT INTO YOUR HOTELS ADDED VALUE INCLUSION. . THIS WILL STIMULATE THE VACATIONER TO BEGIN TO LOOK AT BGI IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT AS FAR AS FOOD IS CONCERNED, EVERY ONE ENJOYS A GREAT MEAL.

  14. Adrian Loveridge

    NYCBGI, Thank you. I agree with you about the hotel inclusion. Put on free transport or charge a nominal $10 and have it redeemable at participating food offerings. I think a similar thing would work for trying to revitalise Speightstown too. Repair the pier, spruce the place up and offer a passport type product which could be redeemed at various restaurants/eateries. At P&Q we never tried to keep the guests here all the time. Part of the reason people come back is because of the variety.

  15. PADAIR

    Some interesting comments.In our case we can’t get to Barbados from Toronto, sold out! Through to mid February. Travel agent says since the charters stopped going to BGI AC, and Westjet are selling out in advance and quickly. Airlift from Canada seems to be a major issue. At one time there were two flight s day to BGI from YYZ in the winter!.

    You can’t fill accommodations if there’s no airlift.

  16. Adrian Loveridge

    Padair,
    you really surprise me. Just tried booking YYZ/BGI 11 Feb BGI/YYZ 25 with WestJet and no problem (CAD$710). Same day connections via Atlanta on Thursday and Saturdays at CAD$600 plus reurn. I did not try Air Canada but they have increased capacity out of Toronto (B777) and Montreal (now 3 flights per week) by over a 1,000 seats a week.

  17. Anonymous

    My Parents have owned a condo in Rockley, Christ Church, since it was built 30 yrs. ago. We are American. Needless to say we have spent many wonderful times in our 2nd home. 3 generations now in fact. From seasonal winter retiree stays to 2-3 wk. summer crop-over vacations. We originally all traveled from the Baltimore /Washington metro area which had many options over the years, good & bad. I remember when we almost always had to go through Puerto Rico , little did I know then how much it beat Miami! Air Jamaica had a very convenient & competitive option for awhile. Then my husband and I moved to Georgia 8 years ago. We are almost a 4 hr. drive from the airport as it is. I am now disabled but can travel and spend long periods of time with my mom in Barbados, At 1st Delta was a godsend. They were almost always the best price and flew direct to BGI. I was there in 5 hrs. No transferring & walking to change planes not to mention the added expenses from the AA monopoly . That money would b better spent in Barbados. In fact we were there in November & wanted to try & go back this spring as we have a residence but getting there has become a huge hassle. Too bad for the Bajan economy because my mom ends up spending a good deal when she’s there. The joke in the family has always been wherever she goes she has to contribute (by buying things) to the local economy!

    What was the deal with the incredible money spent in anticipation of the crowds for the World Cup a number of years ago! I know that was a total fiasco! I’d LOVE to know if & when Delta flies from Atlanta again, keep getting mixed ideas.PLEASE HELP TO GET SOMETHING GOING !! I look & contact them ever time I try & get a flight & always get the same old thing ” sorry we’re not flying the currently” Ughh….