Tag Archives: Barbados 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

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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

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If each small business in Barbados could hire just one more employee…

got the job barbados web

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

As a small business person for most of my life, trying to make miniscule budgets become larger profitable realities goes with the territory. As a general rule we adopted a very simple psychology – that any marketing dollars spent had to produce a tenfold return, or return on investment ROI of 1:10.

For instance if you took a quarter page on a peak circulation day in the sister publication of Business Authority, the ‘ad’ space would cost around $900 per insertion.

Very few smaller businesses could reasonably expect that a single ‘ad’ would generate an additional $9,000 in turnover, so the only plausible alternative could be to partner with 8 other entities each contributing $100 and then ask the question again.

Could an individual participant in a collective ‘ad’ expect to drive another $900 in new business?

An example might be a standalone restaurant ‘ad’ at $900 would probably need to drive another 60 customers a week to justify, but a shared cost of $100 would require just six or seven more patrons per establishment.

More historically traditional mediums like newspapers have been driven into looking for far more creative ways of retaining advertising revenue to compete with internet and other competition, but at the risk of the editor sacking me, they have to do a lot more to retain viability. (Editor’s note: Not around here, Adrian. Our advert ratesheet is very reasonable!)

One of the simplest ways this could be achieved would be to run a dedicated weekly restaurant and/or staycation/attractions page. Break the cost down to a level where individual ‘partners’ could afford to participate and justify the expense. Perhaps even build-in a discount voucher which is exclusive to the publication.

The recent revamping of the Nation and its various supplements may provide a new opportunity with one or more sales staff dedicated to following through with this concept.

There is also the possibility of sponsorship by other businesses that ultimately stand an equal opportunity of adding turnover or brand awareness. A local branded credit card issuer would be a natural partner who would benefit by users selecting a preferred method of payment.

The remodeled Easy Sunday insert just might be one of the best mediums for such a regular feature, as it appears to be targeted towards a particular lifestyle and perhaps would be easier to manage in terms of size and content.

As we rapidly approach the more challenging long tourism softer summer months the launch timing also seems to be perfect.

Personally, I am absolutely convinced it is going to primarily our small businesses that will be largely responsible for aiding economic recovery. Just imagine if by encouraging co-operative marketing initiatives each small business is able to employee just one more person. What a difference that could make to reducing unemployment levels and increasing disposable income into the system.

So I have thrown out the gauntlet to this publisher and those enterprises who think they can work together collectively to make a positive difference.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

Falling fuel prices no guarantee of increased tourism – Barbados must work smart and hard in a tough market

Barbados Grantley Airport Tarmac

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Most of us, of course, warmly welcome the current fall in fuel prices which probably in the hospitality sector be demonstrated by the greatest savings in electricity prices, especially those properties who have extensive air conditioning units.

But almost needlessly to say, that Government will collect a lower level of taxes and VAT, so it’s a two edged sword.

I also wonder how long it will take our limited number of distribution companies to pass on the benefit of reduced delivery costs as a result of cheaper petrol and diesel prices. Assuming of course, they will pass on the benefits at all.

Experts in the aviation industry do not expect any dramatic reduction in airfares and again it may work initially against the consumer’s interest while used aircraft values rise as fuel falls, slowing down the delivery of newer most fuel-efficient aircraft in some cases.

Across our major tourism markets the halving of oil prices will hopefully give people more disposable income, perhaps most notably in the United Kingdom, where we have witnessed a recent significant fall in the value of Sterling against the US Dollar.

The Key to Success for Barbados tourism

Judging by the unprecedented level of email holiday bargains on offer in the UK I have tracked, there is absolutely no room for complacency this year and particularly in the more challenging softer summer months. Key to the success of this will be to portray the destination as offering real value-for-money. And I do not mean attempting to achieve the almost impossible objective by making everything cheaper, but ensuring that every product offering is as good as we can get it and going that extra mile to make visitors feel rightly special.  Continue reading

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