“We have to either redress this reality or perception or risk losing more market share.”
With Sterling reaching an eight year high against the Euro, making most European countries dramatically less expensive as holiday destinations and the Canadian Dollar below 80 cents when compared with its southern neighbour, the pressure is on to making Barbados perceived as offering value-for money.
So when a Spanish based bank with a huge presence in the United Kingdom recently published the results of a survey entitled ‘Barbados Caribbean island is most expensive place to visit’ it should send a huge tidal wave of realism to our various tourism policymakers and planners that we have to either redress this reality or perception or risk losing more market share.
Santander UK currently serves more than 14 million active customers from 921 branches and 66 regional Corporate Business Centres in the United Kingdom. As of 31st December 2014 it was the most switched-to-bank attracting 1 in 4 new retail accounts.
The survey, largely undertaken by Opinium Research/ONS Travel Trends 2014, stated ‘British people visiting Barbados will feel a particular nasty sting in their wallets this summer, having to fork out an average of GBPounds 109 a day in spending money – not including the cost of a hotel’.
Around the world Barbados was placed as No. 1 in a list of the ten most expensive countries for British people to visit based on average daily spend. Second was the United Arab Emirates.
Just as alarming, is that Santander concluded that the daily costs of visiting Barbados have risen from GBPounds 79 per day or nearly 38 per cent since 2010.
To put this in context they quote Poland and India where UK travellers spend on average GBPounds 30 per day with not a single other Caribbean country making the top ten in terms of high costs.
With this ‘research’ now widely circulated among some of the best selling newspapers, journals, websites and social media, I really wonder if the current administration has thought through the impending consequences on prices that the latest tax grabbing budget will have?
Not just on locals… but our visitors as well. With VAT being placed on a number of food items that the majority deem ‘staples’ and inevitably will further push us as a destination further out of reach for many more, including the number of families who form a critical part of the overall arrival statistics.
One thing for sure: Santander’s 14 million account holders in the United Kingdom represent 22 per cent of the entire UK population – who are being told we are the world’s most expensive destination.
Our marketing people have a mountain to climb to even try and redress the potential damage.
Perhaps the way forward might include smart partnering with Santander to gives its customer’s special concessions on Barbados when paying with one of their debit or credit cards or no fee currency exchange.
‘We’ could even take it to a higher level with a destination affinity card offering regular ‘win a holiday to Barbados’ prizes for those who use that method of payment.