Most of us, of course, warmly welcome the current fall in fuel prices which probably in the hospitality sector be demonstrated by the greatest savings in electricity prices, especially those properties who have extensive air conditioning units.
But almost needlessly to say, that Government will collect a lower level of taxes and VAT, so it’s a two edged sword.
I also wonder how long it will take our limited number of distribution companies to pass on the benefit of reduced delivery costs as a result of cheaper petrol and diesel prices. Assuming of course, they will pass on the benefits at all.
Experts in the aviation industry do not expect any dramatic reduction in airfares and again it may work initially against the consumer’s interest while used aircraft values rise as fuel falls, slowing down the delivery of newer most fuel-efficient aircraft in some cases.
Across our major tourism markets the halving of oil prices will hopefully give people more disposable income, perhaps most notably in the United Kingdom, where we have witnessed a recent significant fall in the value of Sterling against the US Dollar.
The Key to Success for Barbados tourism
Judging by the unprecedented level of email holiday bargains on offer in the UK I have tracked, there is absolutely no room for complacency this year and particularly in the more challenging softer summer months. Key to the success of this will be to portray the destination as offering real value-for-money. And I do not mean attempting to achieve the almost impossible objective by making everything cheaper, but ensuring that every product offering is as good as we can get it and going that extra mile to make visitors feel rightly special.
Anyone who has read this column on a consistent basis will know that I am a tremendous advocate of building smart partnerships and increasingly more frequently other sectors are reaching out to explore how they can work better with the tourism industry.
A simple recent example is one of the local telecommunication companies is offering free SIM cards to visitors who take up one of our re-DISCOVER offers. It’s a win-win concept for all of us. The company builds market share and greater use of its network, the customer (visitor) has lower cost or free calls and texts and we tempt more people to eat in our restaurants, which in turn hopefully increases overall tourism spend.
I will hastily point out that it was not my idea, but an executive of the telecoms organisation thinking ‘out of the box’.
We are also trying to forge an ‘arrangement’ with a leading US based financial institute who have nearly 50 million branded credit card holders in their home country alone. As a destination we have sometimes struggled with building awareness of Barbados in the USA and perhaps the falling arrival numbers reflect that. I firmly believe we can change this and the recovery process has already started.
By piggybacking on their brand we get the message out much better and at little cost.
Tarmac photo courtesy of Grantley Adams International Airport