Category Archives: Economy

Barbados Government’s unrealistic taxes & inability to pay tax refunds is causing dumping, ruining the environment and our tourism economy

“Clearly the commercial banks will not extend interest free overdrafts to companies like ours to allow for Government’s inability to meet their obligations, so the financial challenges are further compounded as time goes by.”

“Many businesses have been forced to wait more than two years for submitted VAT refunds without any interest being paid.”

Indiscriminate garbage dumping linked to unrealistic tax structure

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While at first this week’s column may seem to stray from the subject ‘matter’ and purpose, the consequence of certain actions has a direct negative effect on our tourism performance.

As a business we get absolutely no ‘free’ state collection of garbage.

We sort and separate everything we can with the wonderful assistance of B’s Recycling and virtually everything else we pay private contractors to collect and dispose of at a considerable cost.

Therefore when the Municipal Solid Waste Tax was imposed, almost without warning, the additional (in our case) $8,000 a year in further unbudgeted taxation was especially irksome as we have been asked to pay for something we do not in any way benefit from directly.

Compounding this already unfair situation is the announced tipping fee which the waste disposal companies will be forced to pass on to their customers like us.

This at a time when we are among many businesses who have been forced to wait more than two years for submitted VAT refunds without any interest being paid.

Clearly the commercial banks will not extend interest free overdrafts to companies like ours to allow for Government’s inability to meet their obligations, so the financial challenges are further compounded as time goes by.

From a tourism perspective, I also really also wonder if our policymakers have truly thought this through. While you cannot condemn any Government for indiscriminate dumping, clearly there has been a marked increase in this unfortunate practice, especially in some of our outstanding natural beauty spots.  Does anyone think for a single second that our visitors do not notice these blights on our amazing landscape?  Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy, Environment

Bargain airfares offer hope for Barbados Tourism – but only if we act!

American-Airlines-Dallas-Barbados

“If anyone realistically thinks… that lower prices do not drive additional business, then think again.”

Atlanta to Barbados – Return from US$227!!!

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

I subscribe to a website called airfarewatchdog.com which for those of you are unfamiliar with, monitors airfares across the world.

When Delta Airlines resumed their flights from Atlanta to Barbados, I placed an alert which several times daily, automatically scans all available options on that route whether direct flights or through connecting cities. Last week a series of alerts advised that for certain days and months, subject to advance booking, return air fares were available as low as US$227 with the amalgamated American Airlines and US Air.

Delta flights are of course direct and non-stop twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays, while flying with the other carriers would involve a change in Charlotte or Miami, obviously resulting in a longer overall travel time.

But look at the fare, and if anyone realistically thinks for at least part of our target markets, that lower prices do not drive additional business, then think again.

I also monitor the very popular Trip Advisor Barbados Forum site and could not help notice that a lady had also spotted the bargain fares and had no hesitation in booking her family of five to Barbados, due to the lower cost travel opportunity.

How can we as a tourism driven country better take full advantage of these chances, especially as they cost us absolutely nothing in terms of marketing dollars?

Maybe by following other examples, both in terms of the tourism industry, but also other sectors, by including a ‘last minute’ portal on the national website with links. It could even be branded as a distinctive by separate product with catchy name like ‘spontaneous’.  Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Time for Barbados businesses to move into the Internet age – better late than never!

barbados-beach

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Anyone who has used the internet to shop in Britain, North America and Continental Europe cannot fail to be impressed with the variety available, level of service and delivery options.

And I wonder with the recent change of ownership, branding and appointment of new management in some of our distribution and supermarket outlets has not presented an incredible opportunity to better serve up to 500,000 long stay visitors that we attract each year. Especially for first time visitors staying at our vast choice of villas, condominiums and apartments and who are unsure of what is available and pricing on certain consumables, at least prior to arrival.

What prompted these thoughts was the appointment of Judith Wilcox as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TriMart Inc. Her vast knowledge of the tourism industry gained with Virgin Atlantic and more recently, one of our largest villa rental agency, could provide a unique insight in developing better synergies between our suppliers and overseas visiting customers.

While there have been various local websites in the past, perhaps now is the time to take this marketing medium to a much higher level with the means to research product offerings prior to homeland departure, pay online with a credit card and delivery to coincide with the visitor’s arrival.

It is also potentially a great promotional vehicle to expose more locally made items and build better brand awareness to a much larger marketplace.

Does our reputation as a playground for the rich, work against Barbados?

While we are often depicted as an iconic destination for the rich and famous, let none of our tourism planners be lured into the illusion that the vast majority of our visitors are not increasingly demanding value-for-money. This will become even more critical as we transition from the peak winter season into the long eight months of summer, if the additional airlift attracted is going to be sustained.

From a business operation aspect in many cases we appear to be light years behind many developed countries in the area of e-commerce. By now we should be able to order and pay for so much more online, including electricity, water, all government taxes and licences, postage stamps etc.

There seems to be little alternative to queue in line for up to an hour to deposit cheques in most of our banks, but it should not, as it recently did take four hours to renew a vehicle tax disc, because the licensing authority had decided, without telling it’s ‘customers’, the rules had changed.

It seems the phrase ‘time is money’ isn’t understood by many of our service providers and this will have to change if we hope to emerge intact from the current financial challenges.

Of course there are notable exceptions. We can pay our phone/internet bills online and we can order a very limited choice of everyday supplies, but it’s far from the ‘norm’. Often it means hanging on a telephone while a check is made if the item is in stock, then writing a cheque for payment on delivery or at the end of the month.

All these transactions require time while this precious commodity could be spent far more productively, both from a consumer and suppliers perspective.

3 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Cotton crop in danger as Barbados Government unable to pay pickers for last year’s work

Barbados picking cotton

Labour Action a result of no pay for a year

Contributed anonymously by Rotten Cotton

Our 2015 cotton crop is in danger of rotting in the fields as fewer than 10% of last year’s 150 registered cotton pickers are willing to work, and this year the crop is almost double the size of 2014.

The problem is that the Government of Barbados hasn’t been able to pay the pickers for the work they did a full year ago, picking the 2014 crop.

Guess what folks? You promise to pay agricultural workers a certain amount for each pound of cotton and you don’t pay them for a year… what happens is that nobody shows up to pick the next crop.

Got that Prime Minster Stuart?

It’s a simple and basic concept that this government hasn’t grasped I know. The government can put off paying suppliers, contractors and government employees when the money can’t be found, and those people will hang in waiting for the government to catch up on payments.

But you can’t do that to poor agricultural workers for a year or they walk and that is exactly what has happened.

“How bad is the financial situation really when the government puts the whole 2015 cotton crop at risk because they can’t pay workers their 40 cents a pound that has been owing to them for a year?”

The newspapers and television are full of cotton stories with politicians, Agricultural Ministry officials and industry spokespeople hyping the value to the economy and the doubling of fields planted over last year but hardly anyone is talking about the growing sense of danger – some say verging on panic – that is spreading throughout the cotton community.  Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Cotton, Economy

Encouraging reports about British tourism bookings

Barbados_Flag125.jpg

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

According to a recent TravelMole article, British travel agents are reporting ‘exceptional’ days of trading so far this month. Some say forward bookings are up as much as ‘30-50 percent’ over the same period last year and that a third of summer holidays currently being offered in 2015 will be sold during January and February.

Based on early indications the most popular long haul destinations are within the Caribbean and in particular – Costa Rica, Mexico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Others far flung choices include Mauritius and the Maldives.

On the downside, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reported that short haul holidays are being boosted by the low value of the Euro against Sterling, making the Mediterranean much more affordable.

But conversely, the abolition of the dreaded Air Passenger Tax (APD) for children below 12 years is driving demand for destinations further afield. There is also a continuing trend for travellers booking further in advance. As a former tour operator for 12 years, I can tell you just how helpful that is in the overall scheme of things. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy on natural gas shortage – Hotels, businesses at fault for failing to plan for government’s failure to plan.

Barbados is paying the price for Prime Minister Stuart's wrong decisions and planning failures.

Barbados businesses and citizens are paying the price for Prime Minister Stuart’s wrong decisions, planning failures.

submitted by old todd

For the past four months – not “a few weeks” as said by The Nation newspaper – businesses, restaurants and hotels have been devastated by the failure of the Barbados Government to deliver sufficient natural gas. Every industry using natural gas has been impacted, right from biscuit maker WIBISCO that lost 60% production and 50% of export sales in December, to restaurants and hotels along the west and south coasts forced to close or suffer tourist cancellations.

Tourism Minister Richard Sealy says businesses should be ready for his government's failure to plan.

Tourism Minister Richard Sealy says businesses should be ready for his government’s failure to plan.

The harm to our tourism and manufacturing sectors will not be over when the shortage ends. It will take a year or more to regain the confidence of tourists and business customers who were directly impacted.

The government and the National Petroleum Corporation are portraying this as the failure of two wells – something that could not have been foreseen. What rot!

The truth is that Barbados has been running too close to the line for years, with known insufficient reserves and weaknesses in the distribution system. There was no surprise – this has been coming for years as predicted by industry pundits.

So now that the crisis is here, government is taking steps to import the machinery and perform repairs that should have been done years ago. That is only a stop-gap until new wells and natural gas imports can be arranged for.

And we have no money.

Government made decisions to withhold spending on distribution system maintenance and improvement. Government made decisions every year for the past seven to lower natural gas reserves and to sail closer to the disaster zone, counting on luck and hope that we would have enough gas to get through the busy tourist high season.

That was a decision and it was the wrong decision. Now the country is paying.

Further Reading

Barbados Today: Toppin: Deal with natural gas shortage

Nation News: Hoteliers told to get back-up energy

Nation News: Biscuit Blues

Advocate: PM: Efforts on to resolve natural gas shortage

5 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Economy, Energy

Inter-American Development Bank cancels $160m loan for Barbados Four Seasons project

barbados four seasons construction

Another monster project left to rot in the Bajan sun

The on again – off again Barbados Four Seasons resort project may have received its final coffin-nail with the IDB finally withdrawing from this decade-old debacle. (Nation News: IDB withdraws loan for Four Seasons)

How much taxpayer funding has the Barbados government poured into this mess? Are we allowed to know? Did the government transfer any of the National Insurance Scheme pension funds to the project developers?

Barbados Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has made all sorts of claims. In March 2013 he told Bajans that our taxpayer monies would be recovered on the sale of the Four Seasons. Well Mr. Sinckler? Where’s our money?

Back then, BFP’s readers were asked if Bajan taxpayers would recover all the monies that their government invested in the Four Seasons. 50% said we’ll never know the truth, 43.5% said there was not a chance that we would recover the monies. 6.4% said we’d get back all the money, (but that was probably Minister Sinckler himself sitting there for voting for hours.)

Former PM Thompson said that supporting Four Seasons could be “extremely risky” to the DLP Government, but Freundel Stuart went ahead and did it after Thompson died.

“Now of course the first objective is not for Government to give guarantees to projects of this type. So the Government is not available, generally speaking, for that kind of thing and I want to make that abundantly clear. It is extremely risky. It has brought down Governments in other countries and I don’t intend to let it bring down my government. And it can sometimes smack of an element of favouritism and once you start it, it becomes like a rolling stone that will gather moss…and therefore, we have to be very careful,”

February 2, 2010 – Prime Minister David Thompson in the Barbados Advocate article PM defends stance on Four Seasons

Hard Times have arrived in Barbados

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it…

1/ Shun debt. Shun expenses. Live as frugally as you can.

2/ Work hard, save what you can.

3/ Look after family and friends as you are able because you might need their help someday.

4/ Learn to grow food, repair your own car, maintain your own home. Repair clothes, repair everything. Don’t buy new anything: let some other fool pay the depreciation!

5/ Smile at the tourists, make them feel welcome but never pressured. Pick up the rubbish where you can and never do anything that takes away from the beauty of Bim.

6/ Thank God for what you do have – then get back to working harder than you ever have before.

18 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Economy, Offshore Investments, Real Estate