Category Archives: Tourism

Signs of recovery, but many Caribbean resorts are “not viable” – and never will be

Will Barbados National Insurance investment in the Four Seasons be lost?

“Of the 25 projects “In Construction” my projection is that only 9 will open within two years.”

… Caribbean hospitality industry expert Robert MacLellan

In his second major article for Barbados Free Press, Caribbean hospitality industry expert Robert MacLellan looks at the slate of unfinished and planned resort projects throughout the region – many of which were all too optimistically started during the 2007/2008 ‘bubble’. Here in Barbados we have our own selection of unfinished concrete bones bleaching in the sun, and there is much pressure to use public money to continue construction.

As I read Mr. MacLellan’s current article, I see that in some cases using public money might not be a wise move. In fact, it might be a predictable disaster and throwing good money after bad. I wish I had confidence that our elected and appointed public officials already know that the tourism business has forever changed and that they are making good plans to save viable resorts…

… but after reading Mr. MacLellan’s article I’m convinced that our leadership continues to fly by the seat of their pants – hoping for the best and basing their decisions on ‘feelings’ and what used to work.

This article, along with Mr. MacLellan’s previous offering Cruise ship industry a ‘Trojan horse’ to Caribbean small island economies, should be required reading at the Barbados Tourism Authority and for every Member of Parliament.

Caribbean Resort Development – Optimistic yet realistic outlook

by Robert MacLellan

This month’s Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (CHTIC) is promoted on the basis of predicted resort development growth across the region in 2012, but the actual situation is more complex and not as positive as first appears.

The leading travel research company in the States (STR) undertakes the great challenge of identifying and recording Caribbean hotel projects from the earliest development stages through to completion – the “pipeline”- a very difficult task, given the number of islands and jurisdictions in the region. However, with 80% of my work across the Caribbean over the last 15 years being development oriented, I felt qualified to further evaluate that pipeline. My research suggests that only 19 of the 69 projects, listed in the pipeline report, are likely to open within the next two years.

I believe that the 15 projects listed as “Abandoned” and “Deferred” are unlikely to be resurrected at all – at least, as previously envisaged. Within a two year window, I estimate that only 1 of 6 projects listed as in “Preplanning” , 5 of 12 in “ Planning” and 4 of 11 in “Final Planning” will make significant progress towards opening. Of the 25 projects “In Construction” my projection is that only 9 will open within two years. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Offshore Investments, Tourism

Muslim riots in Maldives – A Barbados vacation looks better all the time!

Sex outside marriage = flogging in Maldives

Hundreds riot in support of Islamic Sharia law

Rioters say Government under the influence of “Jews” and “Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives.

(It’s the JEWS!!! JEWS!!! JEWS!!! I tell you! And those damned infidel Christian beer drinkers too. Pass me a Banks Beer please… Ta!)

As we said in our recent post about the Maldives: Maldives Muslim crazies are good news for Barbados Tourism

The Maldives, a group of over 1,100 tiny coral islands, is often compared with Barbados as a vacation and retirement destination. Although far-removed from each other geographically, both countries compete for the same United Kingdom and European travelers.

The rise of Islamists demanding Sharia law is threatening the Maldives islands’ tourism industry. I doesn’t matter how pretty and relaxing the place is: when folks are in fear they will be jailed for possessing a bible, when they are cursed as swine and infidels, when women are publicly flogged for having sex out of wedlock and when a tourist can’t buy a beer on a hot afternoon – people start choosing other travel destinations.

Considering a Maldives vacation or honeymoon? Think again!

The government on Wednesday raised fears of Islamic extremism taking hold in the Indian Ocean atoll nation, which is best known for its upmarket tourism and as a destination for honeymooners.

The foreign ministry said it was “extremely concerned” by an increase in extremist rhetoric used by the government’s rivals that could lead to “stigmatization, stereotyping and incitement to religious violence and hatred”.

There have been anti-Semitic protests recently about the transport ministry’s decision to allow direct flights from Israel, while a restaurant that hung up Christmas decorations in 2010 was also targeted.

… from AFP News More arrests in Maldives as protests spread

New (tongue in cheek) Barbados Tourism Authority slogan for Maldives markets…

Vacation in Barbados: We promise we won’t flog you for bringing a bible or having sex without being married!


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Human Rights, Religion, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Adrian Loveridge shares “secrets” of tourism business success – but BTA and government aren’t interested

UPDATED: December 3, 2011

With the breaking story that Tourism Minister Sealy took 135 Ministry employees to Guyana for a weekend “retreat”, we were reminded of this recent post by Adrian Loveridge.

As far as we at BFP are concerned…

Sealy blew it on the optics alone. If he thinks that the public will support this “retreat” in Guyana, he’s out of his mind.

Instead, he should have had groups of employees staying at hotels in Barbados and then getting together at the Hilton or other venues to discuss whatever it is they are going to discuss. As Adrian said in his original piece, he seldom sees anyone from the government at his place and he’s not alone.

Unless Guyana’s tourism product is so much better than ours that the intent was to show everyone at the Ministry how things are supposed to be done?

In which case, we are really in trouble.

Original post first published October 18, 2011…

“It’s almost as if the key decision makers have tried to make tourism more complicated and moved away from the simple things that actually make it work very well.”

Tourism MATTERS – Sharing a business formula that works

by Adrian Loveridge - small hotel owner

Back in the nineteen seventies, after working in Canada, I returned to the United Kingdom, taking two temporary non-travel related jobs to establish enhanced credibility for the purpose of obtaining a house mortgage. Both were important learning experiences which I have never regretted.

The first was working as a salesman in a branch of a high-end consumer electronics retailer selling audio equipment products made by manufacturers that included Bang & Olufsen and Roberts. The manager instilled a valuable lesson that has stayed with me for life. His view was that if you are ever going to effectively sell anything, whatever it was, that you had better know everything possible about it.

I think he sensed a genuine interest and allowed me to take, what at that time, were very expensive pieces of equipment home at night and weekends to familiarise myself with their features.

Months when later I formed a tour operator company, this acquired wisdom formed an integral part  of the business masterplan. Irrespective of the product or service, intimate knowledge of every aspect is critical, if you are going to fully understand your marketplace and prospective customer.

Surprisingly then, even after owning and operating a hotel for nearly twenty four years, I can count on two hands with fingers to spare, the number of senior Barbados Tourism Authority officials, both locally and overseas, Ministers of Tourism, Permanent Secretaries and other leading figures within the public sector that have visited our property. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Ricky Skerritt: Cruise ships leaving Caribbean for more profit. Tourists say that’s not the entire story.

UK Air Passenger Duty hitting Barbados hard

The chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation just told TTG Travel Trade Gazette that the Caribbean is starting to feel the effects of cruise ships moving to European and Asian waters. Ricky Skerritt also told TTG that the Air Passenger Duty is a killer when it comes to one of Barbados’ most important markets: the Brits …

“The ships are going wherever they can get the best yield, which we understand, because the cost of flying to the Dominican Republic or Barbados is so much higher for European passengers, especially from Britain with Air Passenger Duty.

“We are constantly talking to the lines to see what we can do to stimulate demand, but it will be very difficult to bring them back overnight,”

Those ships aren’t returning to the Caribbean anytime soon

Mr. Skerritt’s attempt to put some hope and an upbeat spin on the situation is understandable, but logic tells us that the decisions made by various cruise lines to abandon the Caribbean either for the summer or permanently will not be reversed anytime soon.

The cruise lines did their homework, gathered their information and then decided upon new strategies. This didn’t happen overnight. New tours, marketing strategies and materials were probably prepared a year or more in advance. People book cruises for the destinations and also for specific ships that they know and favour – and many cruise veterans plan their trips years ahead. “Darling, let’s do Asia in the summer, then Africa the year after, then Alaska the following summer.”

Once again, logic tells us that once a ship leaves Barbados and the Caribbean on a permanent basis – it may be years before we see it or a replacement tie up a Bridgetown.

Tourists say: The cost of getting to Barbados isn’t the only problem

An old friend alerted us to this story and also to the reaction on some of the cruising blogs and discussion forums.

The reaction to Mr. Skerritt’s comments by experienced Caribbean cruise passengers from the UK is both revealing and disturbing.

Here’s what the conversation is looking like at the discussion forum… and it’s not pretty. Have a read and think what these folks are saying, and how they are making their vacation plans…

“I can understand their concerns but I have little sympathy with them. Until fifteen years ago the Caribbean was seen as the ultimate winter destination for Europeans. The prices became vastly inflated, hotels/resorts did not reinvest their profits and standards began to slip. But almost out of the blue the other resorts developed rapidly (Maldives etc) offering Europeans great value and the Middle East offering out of this world amenities It’s a lesson which all tourist destinations should heed, don’t take the tourists for granted, someone is always willing to offer them a “better holiday experience””

… Alan, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Barbados Tourism Authority’s Austin Husbands: Keep quiet about bad beaches, environmental damage.

UPDATED March 27, 2013

The tourist numbers are tanking – they have been tanking for a long time. Global financial problems are taking a toll, it’s true, but our numbers are especially bad and worse than most in the Caribbean.

Many folks think that a little more advertising will take care of things. That might get us a few more tourists, but that won’t cure the foundational problems that we have with our tourism product.

This article from our own Nevermind Kurt tells it fuh truth! We drove the old tourism economy taxi right into the ground without changing the oil or performing normal maintenance. We just made money with that old taxi until it could go no longer and we didn’t save for a new one. So here we are trying to make our living driving an old rust bucket of a taxi while everyone around us has a shiny new taxi. No contest where the customer will take their money!

Here’s our original article…

“We cannot continue with the Barbados Tourism Authority’s current philosophy of advertising instead of ensuring product quality. We have to change the road we’re on, or there will be nothing left for our children.” …BFP staffer Nevermind Kurt

“Maybe BTA should advertise some derelict properties as well. LOL Sometimes I wonder if we do not realize the damage we do to our island’s reputation Maybe frustration sets in but Barbados must come first CZMU and other agencies have a mandate, but quite often MONEY just is not there. ”

BTA Deputy Director Austin Husbands chides Mullins Bay Blog for posting an expose of destroyed beaches and empty hotels: You probably will not see this in the glossy Barbados tourism literature

Memo to the BTA: Deceiving tourists doesn’t help Barbados in the long run

by Nevermind Kurt (with Marcus)

When I first read Austin Husbands’ astonishing comment on the St. Peter, Barbados Facebook group, I became angry and started to write a slashing rant aimed squarely at the BTA’s Deputy Director. Then I sat back and thought about the tremendous pressures that our tourism industry and every Bajan is facing at this moment. I also thought that Mr. Husbands believes that he and our tourism industry are trapped by circumstance into carrying on with more of the same: concentrating on promotion rather than on product quality. (ie: “We need the tourist money NOW… no time for foundational changes. Advertise MORE!”)

I’m no longer angry at Mr. Husbands. I think he’s wrong in his approach, but I understand where he’s coming from. I understand his generation’s current desperation and exasperation that while the BTA spends tens of millions of dollars advertising and promoting a Perfect Image of Barbados, concerned Bajans and disgruntled visitors are posting photos of the truth online. Has Mr. Husbands ever read TripAdvisor or Carnival Cruise Lines forums? He should… every day.

“We ordinary Bajans and many of our Barbados regulars have a fundamental disagreement with the Mr. Husbands, the BTA and our political leadership about where our tourism industry is taking our country.”

Ordinary Bajans believe that there is no real plan, that it’s all happening willy nilly and that the long term good of Barbados is being shunted aside for short term profits and personal gain at the expense of our children’s future. Irreparable damage is being done – socially and environmentally – yet the vast majority of our tourism “leaders” can only see the next financial quarter. I understand that, but I’m also saying it’s time to get off the road we’re on. Continue reading


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference cancelled – lack of interest!

Is this a problem with the organisation behind the conference, or something that goes much deeper?

Is this a backlash against Barbados for REDjet, Shanique Myrie, CARICOM movement rights, health care for immigrants and a host of other grievances?

by WSD

The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association just announced that their (ahem) “much anticipated” inaugural annual summit scheduled for June 1-3 in Barbados has been cancelled due to low registration numbers. Unmentioned in the brief press sheet are the reasons why the conference failed – or if the organizers have even started to understand what happened.

Your writer is not in the tourism business, but I have some questions and observations as an ordinary Bajan. Let’s see if my thoughts are shared or disputed by those in tourism and Barbadians in general.

Barbados and the BHTA were heavily committed to this conference, but the conference website shows only four commercial sponsors – only two of which are major companies recognizable to your non-tourism writer (LG and MasterCard). Was this an adequate level of sponsorship interest for a conference that represented itself to be a major summit by a major organisation?

Contrast the Barbados 4 commercial sponsors with the 22 sponsors of the May 10-12, 2011 Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference held in Jamaica.

Was the dearth of sponsors in Barbados a fault of the conference organizers, or fallout from a damaged economy and lower advertising budgets? Was the Barbados conference scheduled too closely to another major event?

Was enough notice given to the tourism industry about the conference itself and the apparently excellent list of speakers? (See BFP’s TripAdvisor’s Brian Payea coming to Barbados)

Backlash against Barbados?

Barbados is under heavy criticism (some of it entirely justified in my opinion) from our Caribbean brothers and sisters over a variety of issues including the lack of health care for LEGAL immigrants and LEGAL visiting workers in Barbados, and the REDjet situation where the airline and the Barbados government failed to show sufficient respect to the laws and sovereignty of Jamaica and T&T.

Then we come to the Shanique Myrie situation where a Jamaican visitor claims she was “finger-raped” by Barbadian authorities upon arrival, held in squalid conditions and deported the next day. Whatever the truth of her story, it doesn’t matter because the damage was done. More important, Shanique Myrie is seen by other Caribbean nationals as just another incident in a long history of similar incidents in Barbados whether reported in the news or not.

Like it or not, the truth is that Barbados as a country and Barbadians as a people are increasingly seen by the rest of the Caribbean as acting arrogantly and disrespectfully in our relations with other nations and on a personal level with visitors.

Remember, it doesn’t matter if this is true or not. It only matters that many other Caribbean nationals believe it is true, or at least have that impression.

It would be a big mistake for Bajans and tourism organizers to assume that the failure of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference is only about the conference itself. There might be something much bigger happening that needs to be recognized and immediately addressed at all levels.

Submitted by BFP reader WSD. Edited and headlined by Marcus.

Further Reading

Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Conference website

eTurboNews: Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association cancels conference


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Culture & Race Issues, Tourism

Welcome to Barbados. Air Canada deliberately left your luggage at home.

British Columbia couple abused by Air Canada

We’re used to hearing stories of lost and delayed luggage concerning LIAT Airlines (Leave Island Any Time), but we’ve never heard anything like the current news about Air Canada.

A couple from Kelowana British Columbia on Canada’s Pacific Ocean coast flew all the way to Barbados only to discover that Air Canada DELIBERATELY didn’t load their luggage!!!

Their luggage was left off the flight because the aircraft couldn’t hold any more. No one told the couple when they switched aircraft in Toronto, and they wasted several hours looking for the bags before boarding their flight to Barbados. The bags were not overweight or unusually sized: Air Canada “regularly” does this to customers, according to a Canadian CBC article.

In this case the wife’s bag arrived two days later and the husband’s bag arrived four days later, probably just in time to head back from their week’s vacation in Barbados.

I guess there are two morals to the story:

1/ You should always pack your carry-on with the expectation that the main bag won’t ever arrive in Barbados.


2/ You’re nothing but cattle to Air Canada. Get used to it!

Further Reading

CBC News Canada: Air Canada leaves baggage behind intentionally


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Canada, Consumer Issues, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism