Barbados Tourism Authority’s claims of success ring hollow
Of course it’s the easy option to continue burying our heads in the sand and pretending that we really don’t have a serious problem with our tourism industry. The alternative is to address the fundamental issues and shape solutions to the overtly obvious challenges.
Everyone in the private sector is acutely aware of the current situation because they work it and live it everyday. Yet in other, circles there seems to be a climate of malaise and denial. Earlier this year a number of publications carried a statement attributed to the current chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority during a press conference at the Hilton, quoting as saying that ‘the BTA had spent over BDS$250,000 promoting the annual Crop Over Festival which he said has been a major success’.
As ‘has’ is in the past tense, after studying the long stay visitor arrival figures for July and August, this heady prediction appears woefully optimistic and grossly inaccurate.
“Not a single one of the current government’s eight stated tourism objectives has been successfully implemented, including producing a tourism masterplan, re-structuring of the BTA or targeting the Caricom market more effectively.”
Based on the provisional figures issued by the Barbados Statistical Service, July shows a decline of 18.1 per cent from the USA, 8.3 per cent Canada, 5.5 per cent UK, 10.2 per cent Trinidad and a staggering 20.0 per cent from Other Caricom. Overall a 12 per cent fall over the same period in 2011.
August got even worse. USA down 12.8 per cent, Canada 2.4 per cent, UK 17.8 per cent, Other Caricom 16.0 per cent. While Trinidad and Tobago showed a growth of 4 per cent, across all markets there was a decline of 13.6 per cent when compared with last year.
When eventually released, it is difficult to imagine the figures for September are going to fare any better, with October and November traditionally being two of the most challenging months of the year.
Where’s the Rihanna Tourism Campaign?
There also appears to be no news of the promised ‘fully integrated advertising campaign’ in ‘which Rihanna will be doing for her country that will be spread across social media and new media’ and scheduled ‘to be launched in September’. It is almost incomprehensible why this major investment of taxpayer monies has been held such a secret and not shared with the industry that generates the cash to fund it.
Hopefully it will create a greater return on investment than the quarter of million dollars put into promoting Crop Over this year. Continue reading