Barbados luxury tourism image becoming a long-term liability?

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus "plasticus baggis trashisus"

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus “plasticus baggis trashisus”

“Barbados an upscale tourism destination? Really?

Open your eyes and your nostrils! Clean up the garbage strewn throughout this island.

Until we do that, the demographics of our tourism business won’t matter.”

Aging demographic of British tourists prompts questions about the next generation, but we have a more immediate problem…

submitted by Passin Thru

Barbados has never been, and will never be, a mass-tourism destination. We’re too far away from our main European markets, the farthest Caribbean destination from the North American markets, and not different enough from the closer South American markets to ever sustain mass-tourism at competitive rates. Nevermind considerations about the small size of the island, the need to import most supplies for tourists and the overpopulation of the south around the Bridgetown corridor – it is the higher transportation costs and longer time necessary to the destination that ensures we can never be competitive on a mass basis.

And that’s good on the cultural / lifestyle side of the coin, but bad on the economic side.

Barbados has always had to offer something other than mass tourism, and what we chose to offer was the image of luxury and upscale destination where the upper-middle class could run shoulders with the super rich and famous (or at least enjoy the same air and views.)

That choice worked in the past, but there are problems now that the younger generation of Brits (our main market) doesn’t have the money that their parents did.

Blame it on the weak UK / European economies, blame it on out of control EU socialism and mass unsustainable immigration into the UK from Third-World African, Middle East and near-Asian countries. Blame it on whatever you like, but it is obvious that younger Brits don’t have the disposable incomes that their parents once did.

So our largest group of tourists – the Brits – continue to age, while the next generation is either going elsewhere or can’t afford Barbados like they used to.

This is not a good trend for Bim.

What’s to be done about this demographic trend of aging Brit tourists and retirees?

I’m no expert, but obviously from the lack of ideas, plans and strategies emanating from government and the tourism organisations, I’m not the only one without a clue about what to do.

I do have one suggestion though…

Barbados is an upscale tourism destination? Really?

Open your eyes and your nostrils! Clean up the garbage strewn throughout this island.

Until we do that, the demographics of our tourism business won’t matter and we will continue to lose our image of an upscale destination.

Passin Thru



Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

12 responses to “Barbados luxury tourism image becoming a long-term liability?

  1. Red Lake Lassie

    Well said passing thru.

  2. MoneyBrain

    When I wrote my Dissertation on Bdos Tourism in 1977, I clearly stated that with an overcrowded island we should be cognizant of making maximum revenue and profit per person ie target middle management types and above, somewhat like Bermuda. Tourists sharing a Banks should be discouraged.

    The competition for the mass market is insane with many young Brits headed to places like Thailand where you can buy a cheap dinner for a Pound and Beers are like 50P. Bim should not want that rowdy drunken group anyway. Cuba/ DR attract many of the masses these days. Everyone I speak to about Bim in Toronto has Bdos as an expensive location. Those that have been do love it. It broke my heart on a recent cruise that some people had a negative view of Bim, as there was no shopping available on Sunday in Broad St. Cruise passengers are sampling Bim and MUST be properly impressed. St Lucia, St Marten et al are doing an excellent job. I avoid Bridgetown and only visit to have a good Bajan lunch at Muster’s ie fish and coucou/ gravy with a Golden Apple juice (nectar of the God’s).

    We have failed to properly develop Medical Tourism and Thailand takes in over a million such tourists a year! Ironic that Bim was one of the very first Medical Tourist destinantions due to the pure air. You might recall George Washington and his brother, who had TB, journeying here in 1751. Please note that flights from Nth America to Bangkok take a minimum of 20 hrs and average 25 hrs. Bim is 4-5hrs from the East Coast and 9-10 from the West Coast. Patients recovering from surgery stay in hotels for a week or two. Pricing could be a little higher than Thailand due to proximity. My understanding is that most medical costs are about half that in the USA. Saving $10,000- $50,000 is not a hard sell.

    I know Billy Griffith has returned from his sojourn in Bermuda and has a top Tourism job. I expect great leadership from him—best of luck dealing with some of the duncey/ corrupt Pols involved.

  3. Passin thru

    “I’m no expert, but obviously from the lack of ideas, plans and strategies emanating from government and the tourism organisations, I’m not the only one without a clue about what to do.”

    Well. DD is no expert either, but have a suggestion for government and the tourism organizations without a clue about what to do.

    GOB/MOT, BTMI and BHTA should consider looking beyond Bajan shores for some professional advice.

    Suggest they may want to have a look at Canadian company Aimia Inc.

    Unlike another saviour from beyond Barbados’ shores, Cahill Energy, Aimia Inc. is a public company, so full disclosure is available to permit due diligence to be conducted.

    This is from Aimia’s website,

    “Aimia Inc. is a data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company. We provide our clients with the customer insights they need to make smarter business decisions and build relevant, rewarding and long-term one-to-one relationships, evolving the value exchange to the mutual benefit of both our clients and consumers.

    With close to 4,000 employees in 20 countries, Aimia partners with groups of companies (coalitions) and individual companies to help generate, collect and analyze customer data and build actionable insights.

    Since 1984, Aimia has been a global leader in the travel and hospitality rewards industry. Beginning with Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition program, we have evolved into a global leader in loyalty management. Today, we act as a strategic advisor, investor, and service provider to travel hospitality companies around the world including: Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Virgin Australia, Malaysia Airlines, Jet Blue, LAN, KLM, Kingfisher, Kuwait Airlines, China Southern, British Airways in the airline space, Carlson Hotels in the hotel space, Amtrak in the rail space and Avis Budget in the car rental space.

    Today, we act as a strategic advisor, investor, and service provider to travel hospitality companies around the world.

    Our combination of frontline experience and institutional knowledge of the airline industry is instrumental to our ability to create and articulate value for carriers. We have experience launching a global frequent guest program in 70 countries, 12 languages and eight currencies. Aimia builds and manages proprietary programs using innovative capabilities. Our objective is to build stronger relationships with travelers. The changing loyalty landscape increases the need for hotels and travel operators to differentiate the loyalty value proposition. Whether it’s up scaling the currency, creating one-to-one multichannel interactions, pursuing partnerships and alternative distributions or leveraging technology to improve the ROI of your program, Aimia has in-depth experience to ensure your efforts are building real relationships.

    Aimia’s distinctive point of differentiation comes from an understanding of the needs of travelers and challenges of travel providers.”

    Financial statements are available through the company’s website or at:

    Aimia has operations in China; so given the cash flow difficulties of GOB, perhaps the Chinese Ambassador to Barbados , H. E. Wang Ke, can arrange for the Government of the People’s Republic of China to finance the cost of Aimco’s services.

  4. D Oracle.

    We have become a filthy island in sight and smell, oblivious to those consequences and pissing in our drinking water.

  5. Gunny Sense

    Barbados comes across as a filthy place where the residents toss trash from their vehicles without a thought. With few public trash receptacles people toss their trash anywhere. It’s like government set up the populace for failure. Even if you want to throw away trash, you can walk forever without finding any public trash cans.

  6. Gunny Sense

    shoulda said “Even if you want to throw away trash responsibly and properly, you can walk forever without finding any public trash cans.

  7. trash can economy

    Barbados ministers all bust stealing money to be worried bout anything else

  8. Janet

    i agree with the previous comments, I waited over three weeks for a waste collection whilst renting. I was soon expecting an infestation of rats and stray cats had started to move in. I called the environmental services who did not call me back to confirm what they were going to do. A collection finally happened at 2.30 am the next morning with so much noise they woke up every household.

    Unfortunately, it is not just the trash that is losing Barbados it’s tourism and trade and I speak from the experience. The costs of flights to the caribbean is crippling, there needs to be more lobbying by the Barbados Tourist Authority of the airlines, if there really is a concern, to reduce their costs or make travel more affordable. There also needs to be some financial control on the cost of food and beverages in the food mall.

    Happy island people ? where ? people are tired of the rudeness of islanders and key amongst those are, shopkeepers, supermarket and bank staff. I have waited a full 10 minutes for servers and or teller to finish their frolicking and personal conversations before serving. My worst experience to date though is buying services from solicitors and dealing with the immigration office (more legislative control needed there ) and finally the post office.

    There is a lack of variety now, too many people doing the same thing. Also too much hustling and trying to uplift costs to tourists. Remember tourists are hard working people too and families often save all year for the experience

    For potential settlers, on my last visit I met 2 families who were selling
    up and leaving Barbados because they had been ripped off by contractors who took all their money and ruined their home and dreams. Too much of this ” I know a boddy who can” and really they can’t, when are they eventually do turn up.

    Bajans who left the island in the 50’s, who dreamed of returning to their home are no longer keen to do so, neither their next generation of families. Many as result of the negative treatment by islanders towards them when they visit as opposed to the treatment to other ‘real tourists’.

    Finally, people worldwide want to visit Barbados and support the island, it still raises a luxury holiday destination in the minds of many, but apart from the sea, sand and fresh fish, and the older island people the country is really losing it. It is right the next generation will not have as much disposable income as their predecessors so Barbados needs to offer value for money to keep them interested.

  9. D Oracle.

    Janet, you are so very correct.

  10. Peter Quinlan

    Interesting post with some very good comments. As a frequent Canadian who travels to Barbados on a regular basis, I concur that the island is in fact untidy in many places, and this is/should be a easy fix (provided the local authorities have in place more garbage bins, etc.). Is there a recycling program in effect in Barbados? Curb-side recycling has been in effect for at least 25 years here in Canada. The small size of Barbados compounds the problem. There should be better public awareness campaigns emphasizing a “Tidy Barbados”. This would go a long way to enhancing the Tourist Experience, because we are NOT blind–show some pride & civic responsibility!
    As per the long held notion of Barbados being for “the rich and famous”–well yes, long-held perceptions take some time to change. Quite frankly, I find the prices in Barbados on par with the prices here in Canada. Certainly more expensive than the D.R, Cuba, Mexico, etc. but not as expensive as Bermuda or major metropolises (London, NYC, etc.)
    The biggest impediment seems to be the ATTITUDE of many of the workers in the Service industry. Few people seem to smile or be genuinely happy doing their tasks. A simple “Thank You” goes a long way, but there seems to be too much complacency! There are other locations in the Caribbean for the Tourist dollar; the reason why the numbers of visitors declines year-after-year may be because of these reasons.
    Shame, because it is such a beautiful place–with a quick “tidy up” and some common courtesy, the numbers might increase again to 1970’s numbers. Good Luck!

  11. Even when they are receptacles bajans drop their trash anywhere. Walking on the Board Walk is a good place to see how filthy bajans are when they eat out of the Kentucky boxes and cups they drop them the same place they eat and there are receptacles all along the walk, the plastic paper bags are left to fly every where. As a nation it has to start from kindergarden to UWI, no exceptions. I walk the beach and just where they take the dirty nappies off they leave them, it’s endemic; and when it come to the men, they stop their cars any where, and urinate, it is just awful, how do you change a nation that behave like this?

  12. Name withheld

    Barbados lost its magic years ago. The garbage, crime and traffic ate it all up.