Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism Investment

Barbados Tourism industry and so-called ‘leaders’ suffering from ‘cloud of malaise’

“October’s visitor statistics will set yet other record – sadly not one we want to boast about…”

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

Up until submitting this column the Barbados Statistical Service had not yet posted either the August or September 2013 tourism arrival figures, so I suspect it will be sometime before figures for October this year are known via this critical agency.

Fortunately, news agencies like Bloomberg extract the information from the Central Bank of Barbados and publish them online, albeit some weeks later.

What we do know is that September 2013 recorded the lowest long stay visitor arrivals for any month during the last 11 years. October 2012 welcomed the lowest stay-over visitors for that month during the last decade and unless October 2013 exceeds 36,071 persons, that also will set yet other record – sadly not one we want to boast about.

I don’t think a single individual on Barbados is not aware of the current Government’s fiscal challenges, but surely there is no better time to channel all available human resources into areas where a positive difference could be made.

Over the last few weeks I have being viewing tourism from a different perspective; that of a potential first time investor into Barbados. Sadly, if ‘we’ are honest and objective, there are many areas lacking – some may even say, deficient. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Harlequin’s The Merricks Resort as it really is right now

Harlequin Merricks 21

The Merricks, Barbados – Thursday, March 7, 2013

(click all photos for larger versions)

Dear Barbados Free Press

While sight seeing and using Barbados Holiday Map provided to us tourists as a guide, we went looking for the “Photo Opportunity” shown on the map at Palmetto Bay. As we looked for Palmetto Bay, we came across the Merricks sign; so being a periodic reader of BFP I decided to proceed to see what Photo Opportunities we could find.

The attached pics were just taken Thursday March 7, 2013.  They look strangely similar to those previously published on BFP in August 2012! What has been done in the past year?

There were two workers (?)  on the site.  An old guy who was dismantling a temporary storage area, and a young kid who was wandering around and sitting around. Thought you might want save the time and gas expense to go out to the Merricks site.

Harlequin’s promotional claims that “The Merricks Resort is situated on the stunning Atlantic coast in the south east of Barbados; and the resort has been designed to take advantage of the stunning cliff top position which affords spectacular vistas across the Atlantic Ocean.” are true. I must have missed it but I saw no beach.

“Just Taken” moniker reflects that the photos attached were just taken a couple of days ago.  Fortunately I have not been taken in by the Harlequin Scheme.

Just Taken

Harlequin Merricks 24.Harlequin Merricks 23.Harlequin Merricks 22.Harlequin Merricks 19Harlequin Merricks 32

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Filed under Barbados Tourism, Consumer Issues

Prime Minister of Grenada puts Barbados tourism officials to shame

Grenada scores tourism victory as Prime Minister lands Sandals

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Prime Minister of Grenada, the Hon. Tillman Thomas, recently described the purchase of the former La Source by Sandals as ‘a potential game-changer for our tourism industry’. He went on to say that the entry of resort company Sandals to Grenada’s market is ‘a tide that could lift all boats’.

I think he is right, perhaps in more ways that we can initially anticipate.

What is remarkable about this ‘deal’ is the timing, which must make it at least a candidate for the quickest hotel acquisition ever in the Guinness Book of Records.

It was reported that La Source only closed around the 19th October, when 150 workers were laid-off. Yet, within three weeks the Government of Grenada ‘facilitated their (Sandals) investment with a package of incentives’.  While other administrations around the region hesitated, procrastinated and some may even imply, might have adopted a form of hibernation akin to prolonged sleep.

Perhaps galvanised by the negative consequences of revenue and employment losses and the danger of possibly losing airlift, someone picked up the phone and made the move.

Among the immediate benefits of the arrangement are, massive media destination awareness coverage, reaching millions of people worldwide without it costing the Grenada Board of Tourism a single cent. With a projected re-opening date of 15th December 2012, it will give a huge boost to the upcoming critical winter season. Many loyal Sandals clients will also want to sample the brand, in a new and exciting location. And as PM Tillman so astutely observed, was pleased at the ‘promise of the transfer of skills to Grenadians and an improvement of service in the industry’.

Sandals founder Gordon “Butch’ Stewart has indicated his intention to take the re-named Sandals La Source Grenada Resort and Spa from its current 100 rooms up to 265 guest rooms, private cottages and bungalows over the course of the next ten years. Many of which will be concierge and butler level including the brand’s signature Rondoval suites. As this happens, employment will grow and there will be a positive trickle down effect on the entire local economy.

Mr. Stewart wasted no time with an announcement and images already posted on the corporate website for the travel trade and consumers all to see around the globe. It appears a total win-win situation for everybody and kudos should naturally go to all those involved who made it possible.

A comparison with Barbados Almond Beach Village closure

It is difficult not to draw a comparison with the Almond Beach Village situation, where seven months after closure with the loss of nearly five hundred jobs, no happy conclusion seems to be in sight. Already we are suffering the negative effects of reduced airlift and as further time goes by it will become even more difficult to re-open the property in its rapidly deteriorating condition.

If it gets to a point where upgrading the existing plant becomes unviable, we all know just how long it would take to re-build and open a superior alternative. For those who can recall, Almond Casuarina provided a classic example of that scenario.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Does Barbados protect foreign investors and buyers of vacation properties?

How many incomplete, delayed and struggling vacation projects line our beaches?

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

It must be a very fine line that any responsible Government walks, especially during a period of prolonged financial challenges.

On one hand, they want to encourage, entice and persuade overseas investors to commit to projects that produce employment, wealth creation and meaningful long term value. While at the same time, they equally desire to protect the integrity of the destination, which in our case is often referred to as iconic.

It is almost impossible without having sight of the facts, to ascertain exactly how many hundreds of units of a variety of tourism residences have been ‘sold’ over the last few years, based on computer generated images or artists impressions. Clearly in a multitude of cases, a considerable number of these have yet to be built, let alone, occupied.

Ultimately, of course the latin phrase ‘caveat emptor’ or buyer beware, prevails.

But…

Should ‘we’ as one of the Caribbean pioneers of tourism with a long and relatively successful  history in this sector, not have clearly understandable and transparent legislation in place to protect what could become regular repeat visitors to our shores? Does for instance, the relevant Government Ministry conduct due diligence checks on foreign based companies that submit planning applications for tourism projects, before they are approved?

Is there an insistence that a subsidiary company is legally incorporated in Barbados, and all transactions, whether sales, lease or rental are subject to the laws of this land?

Do ‘we’ ensure that all deposits, pending title completion of the property are held in an escrow account here on Barbados and stipulate the collected funds can only be used to build and market that particular project? (Editor’s note: We all know the answer to that question and it isn’t pretty!) Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Four Seasons Barbados wants your pension money

UPDATED: October 11, 2011

“Dear BFP,

Would you please comment on Finance Minister Sinckler’s insistence that NIS invest millions of our dollars in the Four Seasons project. Is this another CLICO in the making?” (from BFP reader “E”)

BFP says:

Hi “E” We sure will comment on this!

Our Minister of Finance came out yesterday with some very disturbing statements about the Four Seasons project disaster. Minister Sinckler told the press that the “government gives its word” that the project will be completed.

Put down your Coke before reading this or it will go up your nose…

Sinckler was in “full bullshit mode” (pardon our French) and says…

“Massive Returns…”

“Now if the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB] and others with their extensive expertise and expansive due diligence and investment analysis have looked at this project inside out, and have determined that it is a viable project that can bring massive returns to investor and country, why on earth would Barbados want to turn its back on this project?”

Finance Minister Chris Sinckler as quoted in The Nation: Government’s word

For Mr. Sinckler: Lesson 101 – Private sector investment vs. “investing” our tax money

The private sector walked from the Four Seasons “investment” because it is not viable. Now Sinckler and the DLP Government want to “invest” OUR PENSION MONEY in a project that the private sector has abandoned.

NO. Not one more dollar of public money, Mr. Sinckler.

This is an election issue. It might be THE election issue.

Not one more dollar. Mr. Sinckler and Prime Minister Stuart are badly misreading the public on this. We have nothing left to give and I’ll be damned if I will let you place my grandchildren in debt over this.

Name all the investors that our tax money will rescue! How many politicians or close family members are already invested in Four Seasons, Mr. Sinckler? Who are we bailing out?

Not one more dollar of public money. Not one dollar of our pension money.

The line is drawn.

Original story published September 28, 2011…

It’s called the “American Standard” investment!

Mega-project wants a public money bailout with no sure way to assess the future value or success.

“Do any current or previous members of government or their family members have a stake in this project? I want full disclosure before one more dollar of public money is placed at risk.”

Dear Barbados Free Press

The executive chairman of Paradise Beach Limited, Professor Avinash Persaud, wants $80 million of Barbadians’ pension funds to get the “stalled” Four Seasons project going again.

He says the company could go to outsiders for the funds, but as a special favour to Barbados, he’s letting us in on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to…

… To pour more public funds into a major project that can’t find private funding in a recession where tourism is tanking? To shore up underground caves that should have been found before the project started? (See Barbados Today Project push for Four Seasons Resort)

That’s quite an opportunity.

The Barbados government on our behalf has already guaranteed a $120 million bank loan on the project and that really made a difference (guffaw, cough, cough). Now they want more or else I suppose we’ll lose our $120 million dollars.

It sounds like that old story where if you owe the bank some money, the bank owns you – but if you owe big money you own the bank.

Only in this case, Paradise Beach Limited owns our pension funds and future. The government is already so far in that big money is already at risk. Continue reading

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Owen Arthur’s legacy: One rule for GEMS and another for the rest of us

BLP Policy: No level playing field in tourism when the Government owns hotels

Statutory Instruments Supplement No. 28

Supplement to Official Gazette No. 54 dated 6th July 2006.

Duties, taxes and other payments (Exemption) (Hotels and Resorts Ltd) Order, 2006.

The Minister in exercise of the powers conferred on him by section 3 of the Duties, Taxes and Other Payments (Exemption) Act, makes the following Order: Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Offshore Investments, Politics