Category Archives: Traveling and Tourism

Rewarding the failures of former Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch – Net visitors gain for Cricket World Cup: 44 long stay visitors over normal !!!

Cricket World Cup and the Carnival Destiny debacle

Commentary by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

‘That $14 million was supposed to have been self-liquidated, where we would have sold packages that would have more than covered that cost’!

This is the economic justification put forward by a former Minister of Tourism.

Now let’s do the maths!

The loan was actually US$14,772,000. Presumably before any interest payments and we have to assume that figure included any ‘arrangement fees’.

Carnival Destiny has a stated passenger capacity of 2,642 persons.

So! On a simple cost per person that meant that each passenger would have had to pay US$5,591.

Arguments could be made that additional revenue could reduce that figure if the ship was redeployed for the CWC 2007 semi-final in St. Lucia, but why would the Barbadian taxpayer be expected to subsidise the tourism industry in that island?

So could someone please explain to me how this amount could be ‘self-liquidated’?

We can all recall the ludicrous figures been thrown into the public and media domain right up until the now infamous ‘Down to Brass Tacks’ programme of the 25th March of that year.

“’25 cruises ships’, ‘90,000 long stay visitors in the week of the final’.”

But in reality, all that CWC did for our tourism industry was produce a net gain of just 44 long stay visitors for the first four months of 2007.

Of course, some of us spoke out about this lunacy at the time, including tour operators who knew the actual facts, but the deafening noise of the so-called ‘experts’ was overwhelming.

When it became apparent to even those that have a limited understanding of tourism, just how many hotel rooms remained empty in peak months like February and March and during the hosting of the final, it became even more difficult to justify the chartering of Carnival Destiny.

The so called ‘experts’ then went into the now customary damage limitation mode by attempting to justify the fiasco by heralding the promised contribution that would be made by the ‘legacy’ benefits.

Perhaps three years on, someone could put a Dollar figure on those legacy benefits when compared against the costs already spent on, or committed to hosting the event?

Tourism is far too important to the survival of this country to allow it to be led by poorly researched and speculative policies which cannot provide cost-effective justification.

We have to stop rewarding failure!

Adrian Loveridge
29th April 2010

BFP Editor’s note: This article is published as received from Adrian Loveridge with the exception of the main title “Rewarding the failures of former Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch – Net visitors gain for Cricket World Cup: 44 long stay visitors over normal !!!” and the sub-title “Cricket World Cup and the Carnival Destiny debacle” which were created by Barbados Free Press. The photo was also inserted by Barbados Free Press.

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Icelandic volcano eruption intensifies. Many European airports to remain closed on weekend.

List of Airport Closures as of Friday, April 16, 2010 4:12pm EDT

BRITAIN – English airspace is closed until 0000 GMT Saturday. Limited flights from Scotland and Northern Ireland operating until 1800 GMT Friday. British Airways said on Friday all flights into and out of London would be canceled on Saturday. No further details of flight plans were available on BA’s website.

… from the Globe and Mail article List of airports shut down by ash cloud

Impact upon Tourism

“Tourism crises have a knack of occurring from the most unlikely causes in the most unlikely places. Many tourism professionals could be forgiven for finding it difficult to imagine that the eruption of a volcano in the relatively isolated island nation of Iceland could wreak the immense havoc on global tourism which has been experienced over the past few days.

Not since 9/11 (2001) have so many aircraft been grounded in as many countries as we are experiencing in mid April 2010…”

… from an excellent ETN article by David Beirman, Senior lecturer in Tourism at the University of Technology-Sydney The Tourism Industry Implications of the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano Eruption

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

Barbados Pimp pushes “sustainable” development of sex tourism. All he needs is to recruit your children…

“It is time to stop burying heads in the sand and allowing hypocrisy and political expedience to take precedence over common sense, prudence and good judgment.

Firstly all stake holders must accept the Sex Tourism is a reality and stop pretending it does not exist. Then they must implement policy and strategy to deal with the issues head on.

Specialized training needs to be introduced to related officials, directors and managers in order to level the playing field and to be effective in minimizing the negative impact of Sex Tourism.

Conversely, it is important to note that the decision makers in the Sex Trade are working 24 / 7 and are constantly improving their recruitment, marketing, training and management strategies.”

… Charles Lewis writing The impact of the Global Sex Trade on the sustainable development of tourism at Sexxx Sells blog

Charles Lewis says that sex tourism is here, so why not embrace it?

Self-professed “Sex Industry Expert / Consultant / Lecturer” Charles Lewis is on a mission from… God – er, maybe not from God – to legitimize the Sex industry. Lewis doesn’t expect that Barbados is ready to legalize it yet, but according to him that shouldn’t deter us from structuring everything to best profit from the activities anyway.

There’s lots of foreign exchange to be made selling our daughters and our sons, so why not have our Tourism, Health, Police and Immigration officials “implement realistic strategies” to minimize the negative impact of Sex Tourism while reaping the money?

And Mr. Lewis knows just who the authorities can call to get advice on these “realistic strategies”: Mr. Lewis himself, of course.

Mr. Lewis says “Sexxx Sells”, but being an expert in the sex industry he should also know that younger girls sell better than older girls. By the time the normal prostitute hits 23 years or so, she’s getting too old and used to compete against the fresh 18 year olds and younger girls. The clients want younger girls and the industry strives to keep the customers happy! That’s was “recruitment” is all about.

Mr. Lewis tends to not mention such inconvenient truths.

Mr. Lewis also doesn’t mention the truth about human trafficking, sex slavery and the fact that legitimization of prostitution assists in the “recruitment process” – a euphemism he finds useful to describe some of what pimps do.

His arguments that the sex industry uses and supports the existing service infrastructure in the the tourism economy could easily be said about drug trafficking and drug buyers and sellers.

Charles Lewis as Mafia boss Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Zaluchi in The Godfather

Mr. Lewis reminds me of the scene from the movie The Godfather where all the Mafia bosses are discussing the drug trade and how they should control it to keep it as clean as possible because it is going to happen anyway.

Says Mafia boss Don Zaluchi…

“I also don’t believe in drugs. For years I paid my people extra so they wouldn’t do that kind of business. Somebody comes to them and says, “I have powders; if you put up three, four thousand dollar investment, we can make fifty thousand distributing.” So they can’t resist. I want to control it as a business, to keep it respectable.

[slams his hand on the table and shouts]

I don’t want it near schools! I don’t want it sold to children! That’s an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people, the coloreds. They’re animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.”

Barbados does not need Mr. Lewis’ advice, thank you very much. His agenda is clear, even though it is masked in a suit and tie. He is a proponent of having our children selling themselves to strangers for foreign exchange. In my value system, and in the minds of tens of thousands of other Bajans, that puts Mr. Lewis just a little lower than toilet bowl scum.

Politicians would do well to remember that if they feel compelled to go to Mr. Lewis for advice.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Health, Human Rights, Politics, Slavery, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

Canadian news media reports “outrage” at tourist killer’s sentence. Schwarzfeld family says “Sentence made no sense.”

Canadians still following the Terry Schwarzfeld story

Adrian Loveridge interviewed by Ottawa Citizen

The sentencing of Curtis Joel Foster in the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld and the subsequent appeal by the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions continues to be news in Canada.

The Ottawa Citizen published a weekend article Barbados sentence ‘unduly lenient’ as did the CanWest news agency in papers across Canada. The Canadian press interviewed Schwarzfeld’s sister, Joan Schwarzfeld, and hotelier Adrian Loveridge, who chairs the safety and security committee of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

Former Attorney General Dale Marshall – Embarrassing

As well, the Ottawa Citizen focused upon the idiotic (our description) comments of former Attorney General Dale Marshall – who is quoted as saying that Foster’s sentencing should have no impact on tourism from Canada.

Judging by the articles in the Canadian press and the comments online from both Canadians and Bajans, Dale Marshall is totally out of touch with his constituents and the rest of the world on the danger to our tourism industry if Barbados is perceived to be uncaring or soft on violence against visitors and citizens.

Prospective tourists can get over the fact that a visitor was murdered while strolling on a beach in broad daylight – provided they believe it was an isolated incident and that Barbados citizens and our government and courts responded appropriately.

In our opinion, Canadians still believe that Barbados is one of the safest tourist destinations in the world – and rightly so, because Barbados still provides about as safe a vacation as can be had anywhere.

Where Barbados fell down in this case was in the initial response and incident handling, and also in our government’s poor treatment of the victims’ families who were ignored and kept in the dark throughout the process.

Court dates were set, decisions and deals were made and actions were taken by the DPP, the police and the government without basic courtesy or concern for informing the victims’ families. Often there was not even a phone call or an email to inform family members as to an important event as the case processed through our courts. The Schwarzfeld family told the Canadian press that they were not being informed of important developments by the Barbados authorities. Like everyone else, they mostly heard about the deals and delays through the news media or this blog.

Where did the law stop and politics begin?

The decision to not proceed on the murder charge against Foster may have been properly taken according to the best legal advice – but there is also a suspicion in Canada, Barbados and elsewhere that the government simply wanted to avoid the drawn-out publicity a lengthy murder trial. Undoubtedly the failure of our Royal Barbados Police Force to note and address Curtis Joel Foster’s long series of violent crimes against tourists at Long Beach would have been a central issue in any trial.

So the prosecution offered a deal and asked for 16 to 20 years. To the utter amazement of everyone, the judge gave 10 years – proving that Dale Marshall has at least one other neighbour on whatever different planet he lives on.

Had Foster received what Bajans and Canadians consider a reasonable sentence in all the circumstances, the government of Barbados would have happily seen this case fade from the public eye with the average tourist believing that justice was done. That is not to be though.

Two Lessons for Barbados

There are two main lessons that Barbados should take away from this unhappy event. Firstly, we failed to do our best to protect visitors and citizens against a known threat at a specific location. As we mentioned in our article Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away, that was basically a police leadership and competence problem that is as yet unresolved.

Secondly, we failed the family and friends of Terry Schwarzfeld and her daughter-in-law Lauana Cotsman by failing to keep them informed about court dates and decisions in the prosecution of the person who killed their loved one. Oh, our government and politicians were good for a couple of weeks after the murder, but then it all fell apart in the long run because we have no real plan or crisis handling team in place for incidents involving foreign visitors. We wing it every time with no checklist and no institutional memory of what went right or wrong last time.

This is part of a larger problem that our government shares with our news media: in a crisis we prefer cover-ups instead of acknowledging problems and implementing proper responses. We used to be able to operate like this because the government could control the flow of information both locally and abroad.

That was before YouTube and a camera in every mobile phone. That was before instant messaging, blogs, FaceBook and personal websites. That was before TripAdvisor and a host of other travel websites and forums.

We don’t seem to learn the lessons we need to. Six months after the Schwarzfeld beach murder, the British press reported British Tourist Shot, Robbed Near Sandy Lane Resort Barbados On June 4, 2009 – Victim Alleges Silence By Barbados News Media, Hotel, Tourism Authorities.

I am surprised and disappointed that as a country that relies almost exclusively upon tourism for our economy, Barbados has no crisis handling team or plan for the long term management of situations involving foreign visitors. If we did have proper management in place, members of the Schwarzfeld family would not be telling their fellow Canadians that Barbados did not care enough to keep them informed about important developments surrounding the death of their loved one.

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Barbados Prosecutor appeals tourist killer’s ten year sentence: “unduly lenient, does not reflect public concern…”

Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, says that the 10-year sentence handed out to Curtis Joel Foster for the killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld is inadequate. The prosecution had asked for a 16 to 20 year sentence on a plea to manslaughter rather than the original murder charge.

A formal appeal has been filed because, unlike former Attorney General Dale Marshall, DPP Leacock recognizes that the light 10 year sentence “does not reflect the gravity of the offence” and “does not reflect the public’s concern about offences of this nature.”

Too right!

Further Reading

The Nation: Not Enough

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Barbados Prime Minister emails Canadian tourist: “(Boscobel Road Toll Gang) has been investigated… I have received no other negative reports”

“I just wrote the government (about the Boscobel Road Toll Gang) and the PM responded:

I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

Mar 09, 2010, 7:43 AM comment by Ottawa-based tourist ChrisB on Trip Advisor

“My wife and I just returned from Barbados. We were shaken down by “Sean” and his friends and paid $10 to pass…

He actually jumped in the backseat of our Moke for a few minutes, which was a bit frightening. Alas we paid and moved on.

It is indeed still a problem.”

March 10, 2010 3:42pm comment by New York-based tourist jbm4130 on Trip Advisor

"The road is closed. I need ten dollars."

Prime Minister’s statement “Has been Investigated” means “No arrests. Nothing changed”

The leading travel website Trip Advisor has several forums going on the Barbados Boscobel Road Toll Gang where tourists to Barbados from around the world relate some of their stories for others. Similar Boscobel stories are carried on other travel forums as well.

Remember folks: this isn’t Barbados Free Press breaking this story. Dozens of tourists have related their experiences at Trip Advisor and other sites over the last few years and our police have done nothing. In the new world of the internet Barbados ignores this continuing gang activity at its peril. We first reported this story in September of 2008, but the tourist reports go back more than five years.

Members of the Boscobel Road Toll Gang stop tourist hired cars by standing in front of them. They inform the drivers that the road is closed, instruct them to drive another way and demand money for the “assistance”. They are big, nasty men and most of the tourists pay. It is a lucrative business for the gang.

Always seven or eight sitting at the “T” intersection and while one engages the driver in conversation another will sometimes come up behind on the passenger side, reach through an open window to grab a purse or a camera and then run like hell.

NEW REPORT: Gang members getting bolder – Entering cars, sitting in the rear seat behind driver!

A dangerous escalation…

The Royal Barbados Police Force is well aware of this bunch of thieves, but officers have apparently done nothing except take the reports from the poor tourists who are stupid enough to stop and roll down their windows. The Commissioner doesn’t seem to care and neither do the local officers who have actually been seen on occasion to wave at the gang members as they drive by on patrol.

The locals are now getting harassed as well. This, along with the gang members climbing into vehicles for “a friendly chat” are signs of a dangerous escalation. The gang is getting bolder.

On February 19, 2010 a UK tourist with family in Barbados wrote on Trip Advisor:

“I have my suspicions why this still goes on but if Barbados wants to keep it’s tourists then they need to sort it out.”

Another tourist, this one from New York city answered:

“This is a disgrace. And it’s continuance makes the police seem complicit.”

Hey, not to worry folks. Prime Minister David Thompson says “I believe that this matter has been investigated and I have certainly received no other negative reports”

I guess the PM doesn’t read Trip Advisor like the foreign tourists do.

Further Reading at Barbados Free Press

January 8, 2010 Barbados Police Helpless as hundreds of tourists extorted every month by Boscobel road toll gang

June 17, 2009 Boscobel Road Toll Gang Still Operating Freely In Barbados

September 16, 2008 Barbados Police Helpless In Stopping Boscobel Road Toll Gang

* About the photo: We are only using it to illustrate the story and have made the photo dark, blurry and sinister as a new work of art. The person in the photo is not associated with the Boscobel Toll Gang and has never been to Barbados. He is probably a nice, honest person.

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Former Barbados Attorney General to Canadians: It’s none of your business how we punish Schwarzfeld’s killer – You’ll still come here for vacations anyway

“What we have to do, from the very beginning, is respect other people’s judicial system,”

“The country has had incidents like this before, and our tourism product has withstood them. Besides, when a judge makes a decision, Barbados’ tourism product is completely extraneous to that decision…”

Former Barbados Attorney General (and sometimes punching bag) Dale Marshall gives a lesson to Canadians as he talks about foreign criticism surrounding the sentencing of a tourist-killer.

Empathy? Sympathy? Public Relations in the real world? – Dale Marshall hasn’t a clue

Dale Marshall, former Attorney General under the defeated BLP government has a message for Canadians who are critical of the 10 year sentence given to the killer of Terry Schwarzfeld: Hey Canadians: None of your business, and whatever you think it won’t impact Canadian tourism in Barbados anyway.

Yup. That pretty well sums up what Dale Marshall said to The Nation when asked to comment upon the fact that some of the Canadian newspapers are critical of the 10 year sentence handed out by Justice Worrell to the killer of tourist Terry Schwarzfeld.

A pity that Marshall didn’t say something politic like, “I am unable to comment on the particular sentence, but all Bajans grieve what happened to Terry Schwarzfeld. We were shocked at this terrible crime and we ask our Canadian friends to remember that this was done by a single individual with a history of anti-social behaviour against others. We are grateful to the personnel of the Royal Barbados Police Force who worked long and hard to arrest Curtis Joel Foster and bring him to justice. Once again, our sincere condolences to the family of Terry Schwarzfeld. I never had the opportunity of meeting this remarkable person, but it is obvious that she is sorely missed by her family, her friends and her community.”


Nope. Marshall couldn’t say something appropriate. He just had to give the Canadians a lesson in respecting the independence of the Bajan courts that was the equivalent of “bugger off”.

Freaking idiot.

Marshall never was very media-capable. When US authorities took down the builders of Barbados’ new prison – Alaska-based VECO – for decades of corruption and paying off politicians in exchange for contracts, Marshall met with VECO officials for 30 minutes and then announced Ever-ting’ fine here!

So… how’s the jaw doing Mr. Marshall? Rumour has it that ice works better than rum. 🙂

Here is the article from The Nation. As usual we repeat it here in full because that newspaper (like the Barbados Advocate) has a habit of erasing the past when politically expedient. You should head over to their website to read the article, but if it’s missing you’ll find it here…

Ten Rapped (link to The Nation online article)

by BARRY ALLEYNE

THE DECISION BY A BARBADIAN JUDGE to sentence a confessed killer to ten years in jail has come under serious international scrutiny. But a former attorney general says this country’s judicial sentencing system remains beyond reproach, and foreigners simply need to respect the jurisprudence and judicial system of countries outside their own. Continue reading

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Barbados Court: Murder of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld only worth 10 years in prison – Hunted down on beach in broad daylight

Murdered Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld

UPDATE: Victim Impact Statement as read in court

Our Take on the light sentence:

A plea bargain to dispose of the ugly situation as soon as possible. Only ten years for hunting down a tourist on the beach and beating her to death.

Barbados doesn’t want any scrutiny about robbery, rape and violence against tourists by the same accused at the same location for a year prior to the Schwarzfeld murder. Wouldn’t want the Royal Barbados Police Force to look stupid. Bad for business. “Say… what’s on TV tonight? Anything of interest happen at work today dear?”

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Bajan hotel owner Adrian Loveridge comments on the lousy 10 year sentence…

‘10 years for killing visitor’

Sometimes people have to speak out and if that means there are consequences, then so-be-it.

Curtis Joel Foster had already been convicted of 8 robberies including 5 on visitors. We know that at least two of these involved extreme violence because my wife personally treated two of the victims.

Mitigating arguments by the defence lawyer included ‘The court does accept that there was no use of a firearm’, but that is NOT true according to a victim impact statement issued by the husband of the murdered Teresa Schwarzfeld, Stephen Cotsman and printed in the Ottawa Citizen on 22 March and other Canwest publications across Canada.

He stated ‘we understand that he (Foster) has not admitted to what really occured and this adds to our family’s pain. Luana Cotsman is a survivor of the attack and knows exactly what happened’.

‘First, Foster accosted them with a gun and demanded money’.

‘Then, when they truthfully told him that they did not have any (money), he ran back to the bushes and retrieved a big piece of wood (the size of a baseball bat) and chased them as they ran for safety. He caught up with Terry and hit her on the back of the head – so hard that he fractured her skull. Terry never woke up again’.

And what of the rape charge?

One has to ask if the sentence matches the crimes committed and what sort of message is Barbados sending over its concerns for the safety and security of visitors to our shores?

Our deepest sympathies go out to the grieving family with the assurance that some of us do not consider the sentence passed anywhere close to being applicable to the severity of the crimes committed.

Adrian Loveridge

(And all of us at Barbados Free Press sign on to Adrian’s position: Marcus, Shona, George, Cliverton, Robert & Auntie Moses)

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UPDATE: Curtis Joel Foster will be sentenced Monday, March 22, 2010 in murder of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld

This article first appeared on Barbados Free Press on February 17, 2010 – the day that the Bajan news media originally said Curtis Joel Foster would be sentenced. That February 17th court appearance was postponed until Monday, March 22, 2010 – when again we are told that Foster will be sentenced.

Murdered Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld

Curtis Joel Foster will be sentenced on Monday, March 22, 2010, for the “manslaughter” of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld who was walking at Long Beach at the south coast on February 28, 2009 with her daughter-in-law when Foster attacked and robbed them in broad daylight. When the women fled, Foster pursued and used a piece of wood to club them. Mrs. Schwarzfeld never recovered from her head injuries and died in Canada after she was flown back in a coma.

Most people see the event as a murder, but the lawyers and Public Prosecutor let Foster plead to a lesser charge of “manslaughter”. The Canadian news media reported that the victim’s family weren’t even notified of the plea deal or the plea. They heard the news on the radio – so said the Canadian news media back in January.

On March 26, 2009, Foster received only a two year sentence for a string of five tourist robberies that occurred at Long Beach in the year prior to the Schwarzfeld attack. These events involved visitors from the UK and Belgium. He is also charged with the rape of a German tourist at the same location in July of 2008 but we don’t know if he pleaded in that case.

Barbados Police Commissioner Dottin. Long Beach was a robbery and rape “hot spot”, but we Bajans and the tourists were never warned.

Barbados Police acknowledged that they failed to note the long series of violent offenses at Long Beach in the year prior to Schwarzfeld’s death and failed to alert the public or take pro-active measures to prevent further attacks or arrest the attacker.

It turns out that the Commissioner of Police failed to appoint staff to record and analyze crime types and locations to note “hot spots” so that sufficient police resources could be assigned to protect the public or to arrest Curtis Joel Foster and stop his reign of terror. It took the murder of a tourist before anyone paid attention, and even then the police, the government and the Bajan news media initially went into their standard “cover-up” mode that happens when a tourist is attacked. (See BFP’s article Ottawa Citizen Newspaper, National Canadian Coverage: “Bajan Media Ignores Attack On Women. Feisty Barbados Free Press Only Outlet To Speak Out For Schwarzfeld”)

So we’ll see what sentence Foster receives for the murder manslaughter.

Here’s hoping he rots in jail until he draws his final breath. Then toss his body out for the crabs at Long Beach or Mount Stinkeroo. He’s not worth the trouble of a grave.

If you think that’s too harsh, maybe you should ask the Schwarzfeld family or the German rape victim how they feel about it.

Further Reading

BFP, January 21, 2010: Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away

BFP, August 30, 2009: Murdered Canadian Tourist Terry Schwarzfeld Called “White Trash” – Senior Advisor to Barbados Prime Minister Publishes Articles on Same Racist Website!

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Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association calls emergency meeting

Something has to be done!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

As we rapidly approach the softer summer season, should we be concerned over the current viability of our tourism industry?

When one of our largest hotel groups recently published their accounts for the financial year ending 30th September 2009, it sent a powerful wake-up call to our tourism policymakers.

A total of 1,530 rooms spread across five hotels, three of which are here in Barbados managed a total turnover of BDS$62 million.

Even at a virtually impossible occupancy rate of 100 per cent, that is an average room rate of US$110 per night. At a more realistic rate of 75 per cent that average drop to just US$74.

Clearly to maintain a 4 star standard on an all-inclusive basis with continuously escalating costs, this cannot be sustainable.

Discount Wars, Canceled Flights

Discounting has become a way of life for many hotels and other tourism players, simply to maintain the numbers and staffing levels.

‘We’ have added 80,000 new airline seats annually alone from the United States, a market that has not registered any consistence growth over seven years. Already, even before the end of the peak winter season, flights are being cancelled, so what happens post Easter?

Despite the appointment of a new Advertising Agency, a new website and a massive increase of the marketing budget in our second largest market, we still seem not to be able to influence the numbers in relation to the monies spent.

Apart from the Tourism Industry Relief Fund (TIRF), the private sector has largely been left to survive on their own, forced to absorb constantly increasing operational costs, while being encouraged to safeguard employment.

Killer Taxes & Airport Fees in Europe and the Caribbean

Meanwhile Governments appear to be impervious to lowering the cost of travel. The cheapest return flights from Gatwick to Barbados with either scheduled airline, is according to their own websites UK Pounds 590 for travel in June. A staggering UK Pounds 192.80 of that figure is made of taxes and add-ons.

Travel within the Caribbean is no different.  Out of a US$276.50 return ticket from St. Lucia to Barbados with LIAT, US$112.50 is for taxes and add-ons.

The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association has convened an emergency meeting later this week to discuss marketing ideas for spring, summer and winter 2010.

The notice is aptly headed ‘Something has to be done’!

I hope that the meeting will be well attended and that the very best minds in marketing with new ideas and concepts will be listened to. And just maybe their suggestions will be implemented.

‘Something has to be done’!

Adrian Loveridge
9th March 2010

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Say Hello to Sophie & Joe – Having a great time in Barbados

Read their blog, give them a wave and buy Joe a Banks!

We stumbled across Adventures & Misadventures of Joe and Sophie, the blog of two Americans who are taking a break in Barbados to get away from the snows of Chicago. Monday will be their fifth day on the island and by the look of their blog Joe and Sophie are having a great time.

The only small “problem” they encountered was when Joe needed a cold beer and couldn’t find one. (He should have shouted out in Grape Hall and we would have been happy to help him out!)

Their blog has some excellent photos and stories of their first days in Barbados and some interesting tales from their last vacation to Vietnam.

Why not stop by their blog and let them know how much we appreciate them choosing Barbados for their annual vacation… Adventures & Misadventures of Joe and Sophie

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Big excitement in Barbados over direct Brazil flights – but still no Portuguese language on Barbados Tourism Authority website after ten years

Why won’t the Barbados Tourism Authority get off it’s lazy ass and welcome BTA website visitors in Portuguese?

Sorry for the subtitle language, folks. I don’t know how to express the frustration of the entire Barbados tourism industry in any clearer manner.

Hotel owners have been asking the BTA to put up welcome pages in Portuguese and Spanish for over a decade. Tourism and Industry ministers under four different governments have talked about tapping into the huge tourism potential of Brazil and some of our other Central and South American neighbours for 17 years. Barbados spends millions upon millions of dollars every year in tourism marketing and subsidies but we haven’t got what it takes to put up a few webpages to say “Come to Barbados!” in the language that our prospective customers speak.

It just boggles the mind.

“Language is one of the strongest elements of Brazil’s national unity. Portuguese is spoken by nearly 99.9 percent of the population.”

… from Wikipedia’s entry on Brazil

Pointing out the BTA’s lack of Portuguese & Spanish website for five months

BFP started focusing on this one simple issue in our September 23, 2009 article: Idiocy! Government Minister Hutson says “Look to Latinos”, but Barbados Tourism Authority failed to establish Spanish, Portuguese language websites despite 10 years of begging by hotel owners

We followed up on November 6, 2009 with this story: Six weeks later: Still no Spanish, Portuguese language welcome on Barbados Tourism or Investment & Development websites.

“Its now over ten years since I pleaded with the BTA to place a Spanish and Portuguese language version on the national website, so at least some of those 400 million plus potential travelers could do the prior research or planning.
 Look on YouTube and you will see a Spanish version of a television ‘ad’ prepared for the BTA. Of course it was almost a waste of time and money because it contained no-call-to action (telephone number or website address).”

… Adrian Loveridge, private sector hotel owner, “Peach & Quiet Hotel” Barbados

What is it about the BTA that makes them unable to understand the importance of language in marketing?

The Barbados Tourism Authority should have established a Portuguese-language welcome page at the BTA website a decade ago. It’s a basic requirement for entering any tourism market: you have to be able to speak to your target audience. If you’re not willing to do that you are just pretending.

In the case of the BTA, they can do things ass-backwards because they’re playing with the never-ending buckets of our tax dollars and don’t have to show any measurable results. The BTA can make so many basic errors and nobody seems to call them on it.

This is just so stupid.

Our government went to the trouble and expense of lobbying for and facilitating scheduled flights between Brazil and Barbados, but can’t spend what amounts to rum-money to hire a translator to provide some basic information on the BTA website in Portuguese. We’re not even talking about hiring a Brazilian call center to answer questions by prospective tourists – but that’s pretty basic too.

Is there something I’m missing here? PLEASE tell me I’m wrong or crazy or something. Tell me I don’t understand tourism marketing. Explain to me why I should believe that our BTA people are doing the right things at the right time and they are not a bunch of idiots who are unable to make such a simple and low-cost, yet vital, addition to the BTA website.

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Curtis Joel Foster sentencing UPDATE. Killer was supposed to appear February 18th

Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld murdered during Long Beach robbery

Curtis Joel Foster 25, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Barbados High Court on Wednesday, January 20, 2010. At that time the news media stated that Foster would be sentenced on February 17th next.

February 17, 2010 came and went without a single mention of Foster’s sentencing in the Barbados news media. Barbados Free Press had two inquiries from the Canadian news media and we were unable to assist the reporters because we haven’t heard a thing and neither the Barbados electronic nor print media thought to inform the public.

Then on the morning of Thursday February 18th, we heard that “some time ago” the court appearance had been moved to February 18th, but no one bothered to inform the news media or the public. This attitude also extends to the family of the victim who heard about the January 20th guilty plea after the fact and through the news media. It seems that no one from the police or the prosecutor’s office bothered to contact the Schwarzfeld family beforehand.

Unfortunately so typical.

According to a February 18th article in the Nation, the court hearing today (Thursday 18th) was supposed to have been a reading of the psychiatric and pre-sentencing reports.

We haven’t heard what happened in court and so far none of the island news outlets mentioned it, including the evening CBC news.

Can any of our readers assist? Does anyone know what happened to the Foster sentencing? Was he sentenced on the 18th? Is there a new date?

Does anyone have any current information?

Further Reading

BFP, January 21, 2010: Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away

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Curtis Joel Foster to be sentenced today in murder of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld

Murdered Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld

Canada, England, Belgium and Germany watching Foster sentencing

Curtis Joel Foster will be sentenced today, February 17, 2010, for the “manslaughter” of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld who was walking at Long Beach at the south coast on February 28, 2009 with her daughter-in-law when Foster attacked and robbed them in broad daylight. When the women resisted, Foster used a piece of wood to club them. Mrs. Schwarzfeld never recovered from her head injuries and died in Canada after she was flown back in a coma.

Most people see the event as a murder, but the lawyers and Public Prosecutor let Foster plead to a lesser charge of “manslaughter”. The Canadian news media reported that the victim’s family weren’t even notified of the plea deal or the plea. They heard the news on the radio – so said the Canadian news media back in January.

On March 26, 2009, Foster received only a two year sentence for a string of five tourist robberies that occurred at Long Beach in the year prior to the Schwarzfeld attack. These events involved visitors from the UK and Belgium. He is also charged with the rape of a German tourist at the same location in July of 2008 but we don’t know if he pleaded in that case.

Barbados Police have acknowledged that they failed to note the long series of violent offences at Long Beach in the year prior to Schwarzfeld’s death and failed to alert the public or take pro-active measures to prevent further attacks or arrest the attacker.

So today we’ll see what sentence Foster receives.

Here’s hoping he rots in jail until he draws his final breath. Then toss his body out for the crabs at Long Beach or Mount Stinkeroo. He’s not worth the trouble of a grave.

If you think that’s too harsh, maybe you should ask the Schwarzfeld family or the German rape victim how they feel about it.

Further Reading

BFP, January 21, 2010: Guilty plea in killing of Canadian tourist Terry Schwarzfeld raises official hopes that the story will now go away

BFP, August 30, 2009: Murdered Canadian Tourist Terry Schwarzfeld Called “White Trash” – Senior Advisor to Barbados Prime Minister Publishes Articles on Same Racist Website!

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Barbados Police Helpless as hundreds of tourists extorted every month by Boscobel road toll gang

Barbados Police Commissioner has ignored road toll gang for five years

Boscobel Road Toll Gang still frightening tourists – Police Commissioner says “Crime stats are down. Don’t worry, be Happy!”

The Boscobel “Road Toll Gang” have been seriously doing their thing for at least five years now. They stop tourist hired cars by standing in front of them. They inform the drivers that the road is closed, instruct them to drive another way and then demand money for the “assistance”.

They are big, nasty men and most of the tourists pay. It is a lucrative business for the gang.

Always seven or eight sitting at the “T” intersection and while one engages the driver in conversation another will sometimes come up behind on the passenger side, reach through an open window to grab a purse or a camera and then run like hell. Sometimes they will even open an unlocked door.

The Royal Barbados Police Force are well aware of this bunch of thieves, but have done nothing except take the reports from the poor tourists who are stupid enough to stop and roll down their windows. The Commissioner doesn’t seem to care and neither do the local officers who have actually been seen on occasion to wave at the gang members as they drive by on patrol.

Hearing that leaves a person kind of gobsmacked, don’t you think?

Commissioner Dottin, Prime Minister Thompson… are you listening to what the tourists are saying?

The leading travel website Trip Advisor has several forums going on the Barbados Boscobel road toll gang where tourists relate some of their stories for others.

Remember folks: this isn’t Barbados Free Press breaking this story. Dozens of tourists have related their experiences at Trip Advisor over the last few years and our police have done nothing. In the new world of the internet Barbados ignores this continuing gang activity at its peril.

Here are a few recent quotes from people in Texas, Ontario and the U.K. as taken from the Trip Advisor website just last week…

Re: Boscobel Road Toll Bandits…..any updates??
Dec 21, 2009, 8:11 AM
Destination Expert for Barbados
“We were unaware of that occurring, but we were actually stopped by them when we drove through that area in October. We wound up giving the guy $10 US and he seemed to be ok with that & we went on our way.

Too bad the police do not crack down on this — the only other time something like this occurred to us was in St. Lucia and we have not been back there since.”

Re: Boscobel Road Toll Bandits…..any updates??
Dec 21, 2009, 8:46 AM
Hi Lois

“so that’s fairly recent. You indicate you were stopped by them. Knowing what you know now, do you think you could have slowed down so as not to run over anyone, yet not stop, thereby avoiding a confrontation?

Also when coming back, if one has run the gauntlet on the way north I wonder, Would they be any more aggressive if they recognize our car?”

Re: Boscobel Road Toll Bandits…..any updates??
Dec 21, 2009, 9:59 AM
“There’s the rub. Even if you avoid them on the way out to North Point you’re going to encounter them on the return. So if they’re mad at you…”

“Another option is to avoid the area, then contact local businesses and authorities and tell them why you will not be spending your dollars in their parish. So far, the police are known to be aware of the situation but have done nothing to stop it. Come to your own conclusions about why that may be so. But clearly, local pressure is the only thing that will end the extortion.”

“Our driver warned us ahead of time to keep the windows up and the doors locked and that he would deal with them, which he did.”

Further Reading at Barbados Free Press

June 17, 2009 Boscobel Road Toll Gang Still Operating Freely In Barbados

September 16, 2008 Barbados Police Helpless In Stopping Boscobel Road Toll Gang

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WestJet special – Toronto to Barbados & Return – CAD$250.46 including ALL taxes! What are you waiting for?

Toronto, Chicago, Sudbury, Wisconsin… Come on down to Barbados!

As I write this I see that the forecast for next Sunday in Toronto Canada says minus 18C and snow. A little further north on the map is a town called Sudbury and it’s going to be minus 29C there. Oh baby! Brrrrrrrrr!

Not to be outdone, our American friends in Chicago are receiving up to a foot of snow with temperatures well below freezing. And at the Experimental Aircraft Association airfield in Oshkosh Wisconsin, our flying friends will be very warm on Sunday at a positively balmy minus 11C – which should help them dig out of the big snow storm heading their way on Thursday and Friday.

WestJet: Toronto to Barbados and return for less than the price of a couple of sushi dinners

Our old friends Hants, Dennis Jones and Adrian Loveridge were having a conversation this morning at BFP, and we learned from Adrian that a body can fly from Toronto to Bridgetown and return for $250 Canadian dollars including all taxes.

So we ask all our Canadian friends… What are you waiting for?

Here’s the conversation pulled from the comments section…

Hants says:

@ Dennis Jones

Sometimes I wonder if the overseas employees of the BTA and Barbados Consulates socialise with persons in North America.

Here in Ontario, every year when it gets to minus 10 with snow and ice on the ground like right now, people are booking Escapes to the Heat.

It is a simple equation. minus 10 equal plus 28.

A couple more weeks of this cold and I too might be joining the snowbirds on WestJet.

Adrian Loveridge says:

Hants,

Have you seen WestJet’s latest promotion.
Return flights from Toronto to Barbados on selected days of the week (January on) for CAD$250.46 including ALL taxes.

Cheaper than your heating bill!!!

Get on the plane.

Any rooms at Peach and Quiet?

Adrian and his wife run Peach and Quiet – a small, very special ocean front hotel on the southern tip of Barbados. Their place has won several awards from Trip Advisor, including “Travelers’ Choice – Best Bargain” for 2009. Fodor’s gave them another award in 2009 and says of Peach and Quiet in Fodor’s Caribbean guide, “Perhaps Barbados’s best-kept secret, this small seaside inn on the southeast coast is the sweetest deal we’ve found on the entire island.”

So how about it Adrian? Do you have any rooms left in January and February? Hants is freezing!

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Good Idea: Barbados Government ramps up strategy of buying positive tourism articles in the world’s news media

A Telegraph article “authored” by Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy is only one of dozens of positive travel pieces published in the last few weeks throughout the world as part of a paid advertising campaign by the Barbados Tourism Authority. Judging by the number of new articles we see in our searches each day, the BTA is pulling out all the stops with the current campaign.

As we’ve written previously (October 2008 BFP article here), we think it’s a great strategy and we have no problem with our government paying or subsidizing journalists to visit Barbados – especially where the journalists and publishers are ethical enough to alert their readers to the fact that Barbados contributed to the expenses.

Tourism Minister Sealy - Well done!

This latest article is different in that it is penned by our Minister of Tourism, and whether written entirely by him or not, it communicates a personal warmth and heartfelt love for Barbados that is bound to inspire readers to choose our country for their next vacation.

In my opinion, the value of having a Government Minister speaking directly to an audience of prospective tourists should not be underestimated. Read it for yourself and see if you agree with me that a big part of the effectiveness of this article is because Minister Sealy comes across as highly credible – a person in authority in Barbados who is very sincere in his enthusiasm.

“…in every visitor survey we ever run, the answer to “What do you like best about Barbados?” is always: “The Barbadians so warm and hospitable.”

… So, you see, there are many reasons why we have the highest rate of repeat visits of any major tourist destination in the world, as high as 47 per cent some years, with many of those people returning 25 or even 50 times.

…even though we call Barbados a destination, for many of our visitors it has become a home away from home. People just get attached to the place. I can’t blame them.

… Barbados Tourism Minister Richard Sealy writes the Telegraph article It’s the hospitality of the people that makes our small island so special

The article gives a snapshot of Barbados as a tourist destination and also lays out some of the big plans that the BTA and the government have to build on our strengths with a new emphasis on sports tourism.

There is something about this piece that just seems to work. Previously I saw a video of Minister Sealy extending a personal invitation to visit Barbados (I think on the BTA website at some point) and he came across very well there too – so perhaps the BTA should consider featuring Minister Sealy more.

BFP Praising the Government? What the…????

As our readers know, Barbados Free Press has no problem being critical of the BTA, Tourism Minister Sealy or the government where and when deserved. Often BFP goes for some time without saying something positive about the government – but we don’t think that is doing anyone a disservice because, frankly, the Barbados news media publishes little but happy propaganda for whatever party is in power.

Remember folks… the primary purpose of the Barbados news media is to publish nothing that might curtail the government advertising dollars heading their way! In Barbados, the news media’s silence is traded for government advertising dollars. That’s just life on de rock.

We think that a web outlet like BFP that hammers the government every day is merely providing some balance to the “see no evil” so-called journalism of the local news media and DLP fansites on the internet.

And now, we take you back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Marcus

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Muslim Binary Bombs will put pressure on Airline travel, Tourism

Tough New Security Rules are sure to discourage air travel.

The Christmas Day Muslim terror attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253 failed only because the Muslim fascist who carried it out did not properly mix and ignite the binary explosive strapped to his body.

That is this writer’s opinion after some basic online research and watching a video about binary explosives.

According to what we can gather from news reports and the criminal complaint (linked below), the Nigerian Muslim terrorist named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made it through several security inspections prior to boarding the aircraft in Amsterdam. As the Airbus 330 descended into Detroit, the terrorist spent some 20 minutes in the washroom and then returned to his seat where he attempted to set off an explosive device that was strapped to his leg. The device “popped” – that is partially exploded – and then started to burn.

Merry Christmas from Muslim Fascists

The Muslim terrorist was jumped by passengers who restrained him from further attempts to murder every man, woman and child on the aircraft. The criminal complaint states that cabin crew members used fire extinguishers to put out the man’s “pants leg and the wall of the airplane” that were on fire. The device contained the powerful explosive Pentaerythritol tetranitrate also known as PETN. A partially melted syringe was found nearby.

“PETN is more sensitive to shock or friction than TNT or tetryl, and it is never used alone. It is primarily used in booster and bursting charges of small caliber ammunition, in upper charges of detonators in some land mines and shells, and as the explosive core of detonation cord.[2] PETN is also one of the ingredients of the Semtex plastic explosive.” … from Wikipedia

Binary Explosives – Undetectable and benign until mixed

I didn’t know much about “binary explosives” until this terror attack, but as is normal these days it doesn’t take long to acquire some basic knowledge through the internet. What I discovered is frightening. Binary explosives are made by combining two substances in the right proportions. Some of the substances are undetectable with bomb-sniffing equipment until they are mixed together. The components can be disguised as common items such as make-up powder, toothpaste and hand sanitizing gel.

When done properly the explosives can be incredibly powerful – and are made all the more powerful when the target is a high-flying pressurized airliner that is subject to explosive decompression when even a small hole is opened in the aluminum skin.

Successful ignition of binary explosives can be tricky, and for this reason the mixture is sometimes enhanced with a third substance to allow the explosive to be set off by an ordinary fuse and cigarette lighter instead of a blasting cap or munitions primer. Timing of the ignition can also be important: too soon or too late after mixing and some binary explosives will burn instead of exploding. Once again, this is basic information and much much more is all to be found on the internet including detailed bomb-making instructions.

Considering everything I’ve been able to learn about the attack and binary explosives, I think that the Muslim fascist failed only because he did not properly mix and ignite the binary explosive strapped to his body. He made it through security, he mixed the ingredients and he ignited them. Thank God they didn’t explode.

The impact on the airline industry is the same as if the Muslim terrorist had exploded his bomb and brought down NorthWest Flight 253

New Airline Security Measures a direct result of NorthWest Flight 253

The airline industry and governments are still in the first stages of their response to what happened on Flight 253, but some of the new security measures being reported in the media and on traveler’s forums are so strict that we believe they will seriously impact airline passenger arrivals in Barbados if this is the new reality of air travel.

We’re not saying that these security measures aren’t a necessary response to the threat of Muslim binary bombs – we’re saying that for many prospective visitors to Barbados, the increased security may be the final straw in deciding to drive to Florida or Portugal for a vacation instead of flying to Barbados. Okay, it’s a couple of days hard driving, or maybe folks will take a train or stay in the south of France, or go on a cruise leaving from Southampton – but at a certain point ordinary vacationers will say, “Flying to Barbados or anywhere isn’t worth it.”

“Under new rules enacted by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, passengers and their carry-on baggage will be subject to full searches both at airport screening points and prior to boarding at the aircraft gate area. As a result of the added security precautions, passengers should also expect delayed and cancelled flights as well as missed connections.” (from a travel advisory forum)

At a certain point vacationers will say, “Flying to Barbados or anywhere isn’t worth it.”

Has that time come? Consider some of the new security measures put in place in the last 48 hours as gathered from news stories and travel forums. (See some of the links at the bottom of our story.)

Once again, these measures might be temporary or they might be the new reality…

– Intense hand search of carry-on luggage for everybody. Line up at security a minimum 2 hours before the flight.

– Personal search for all passengers.

– Searched twice: once going through security, and another hand search at the gate prior to boarding. Everybody.

– Only one carry-on bag per person.

– No liquids, gels or toothpaste at all allowed in carry-on baggage. (Report from passenger that her contact lens container in pocket had to be emptied.)

– No electronic devices allowed to be used in flight.

– No getting out of your seat during the last hour of flight. (Gotta go? Too bad!)

– No access to your carry on bag during flight. None. Bag must be stored overhead, not under the seat ahead of you. That’s why only one carry-on allowed so everything fits in the overheads. (Man, those diapers on the kids in row 43 are going to be stinky!)

At a certain point ordinary travelers will say, “Flying isn’t worth it.” Has that time come?

Barbados will feel the impact

While our more northern Caribbean neighbours may be able to balance a loss of flying travelers with an increase in cruise ship arrivals (assuming more folks choose to drive to Florida and take a cruise ship from Miami instead of flying to the Caribbean) – Barbados is at the end of the line for the Miami cruise ships. I’m not sure how much we would benefit from even a 20% increase in Caribbean cruise ship traffic as much of that traffic would, I think, stay north for shorter trips.

I don’t have any solutions friends, and I’m no travel expert. I hope I’m proven wrong, but I think that the terror attack on Northwest Airlines flight 253 is horrible news for Barbados tourism.

Further Reading

ABC News – Officials: Only A Failed Detonator Saved Northwest Flight

Chron.com – Terror scare leads to new travel rules

Globe Mail – Nigerian charged with trying to blow up airliner

Globe Mail – Montreal woman aboard Flight 253 tells of foiled terror attack

ABC News – Investigators: Northwest Bomb Plot Planned by al Qaeda in Yemen

Criminal Complaint by FBI (pdf)

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