Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism

Increased taxes and costs are killing tourism. Barbados government actions “simply defies rationale”

Barbados Solid Waste Tax

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

I had hoped to dedicate this week’s column to the new measures put in place announced in the 2015 budget to stimulate spending, especially in the tourism sector.

Unless I missed something while trawling through the 57 pages, not a single ‘incentive’ has been announced that would be likely to encourage increased domestic spending across the sector.

Conversely, many could fairly claim that the additional $200 million in taxation annually will further restrain people’s ability to take a ‘staycation’ or enjoy one of many excellent restaurants.

Government Broke: VAT refunds two years past due.

In fact private sector led initiatives like the re-DISCOVER dining promotion have been forced to scale down any paid promotion, due to the continued inability to reclaim due and payable VAT refunds, now overdue for more than two years. This in itself is ludicrous and short sighted as many of the participating restaurants do not qualify and are unable to apply the reduced rate of 7.5 per cent VAT, but obligated to pay the higher 17.5 per cent rate.

So Government could be easily losing up to $2 million a year in lost taxes. Add the duties and taxes lost in the included wine element and that figure could well be significantly more, let alone the employment this promotion generates.

Until we witness some real actual sustained recovery in tourism, it is very difficult to comprehend why any Government thinks that increasing taxation and operating costs will reduce the time it takes to attain that objective.  Continue reading

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Tourism success is about perceived value – and Barbados is slipping

barbados-beach-sand-surf

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While not actually attending the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Annual General Meeting recently, if media reporting was accurate, the current Chairman is quoted as stating ‘that discounts were not the way to attract visitors to these shores’. I have enormous respect for Mr. Chatrani (despite his opting not to join the re-DISCOVER initiative) and in principal totally agree with this statement, but in reality we have a mountain to climb to change the current perception.

Sadly across many of our markets we are generally considered as not offering value-for-money in our tourism industry and until the sector becomes more competitive this simply will not change.

As a tour operator in Britain for 12 years, we learnt from the mistakes of others and did not discount a single holiday out of hundreds of thousands sold, other than for people booking and paying in full up to 18 months prior to departure.

The year our company was formed, 1976, interest rates peaked at 15 per cent per annum and so we used our customer’s monies to partially subsidise commercial bank lending charges to grow the company.

Every person who booked also knew that they were not going to get a cheaper holiday if they waited until the last minute, so to get the holiday they wanted, necessitated booking earlier and enabled us to plan better. It was a policy that we continued while operating our small hotel for 25 years.

If we are going to achieve Mr. Chatrani’s objective, we are going to have to fundamentally change the way we currently do business.   Continue reading

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Barbados government should lower taxes on tourist rental cars

coconut car rentals barbados

“I am pleading with the Minister of Finance to reconsider lowering the rate of VAT on car rental for at least our overseas visitors. Car rental is a critical component part of our export tourism offerings.”

Hired cars unreasonably expensive in Barbados

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Whether travelling on business or pleasure, I usually hire a car, because for me it adds a huge extra dimension to the experience and dramatically increases the options available.

With an imminent budget on the horizon, I would implore the Minister of Finance to look again at our car rental sector, if we are going to maintain the recent increase in visitor arrival numbers.

Personally I do not think this segment of our tourism offerings gets the attention it deserves and that is probably partially due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of the enormous contribution it makes.

Just one of our larger vehicle rental operators has a fleet of almost 130 cars. If you average a rental period at 7 days, with a driver and at least one passenger, that amounts to over 13,000 persons each year. Of course the fleet size varies enormously, but from recently writing to over 30 Barbados based entities offering car rental, it gives you some idea of the importance in economic terms they play overall.

Rarely do I pay more than US$150 for a week’s rental in North America or GB Pounds 100 in the United Kingdom for a compact car, so for many of our visitors it can be quite a shock to pay what are considered ‘normal’ rates on Barbados. But it’s easy to see why, because of the taxes on purchasing cars here is staggeringly different to those where our major source markets emanate from.

Also surprising is the sad and difficult to understand logic behind the decision not to lower the rate of value-added-tax (VAT) on vehicle rental when the adjustments were recently made to hotels and some restaurants.

Perhaps it is because our tourism planners and policy makers do not fully understand the secondary benefits and economic importance that the flexibility of having a rental vehicle brings. It enables our visitors to sample more restaurants for lunch and dinner, patronise our attractions, activities, increases shopping options and generates fuel purchases among others. Continue reading

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Barbados luxury tourism image becoming a long-term liability?

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus "plasticus baggis trashisus"

Typical roadside wildlife: The not so rare Genus “plasticus baggis trashisus”

“Barbados an upscale tourism destination? Really?

Open your eyes and your nostrils! Clean up the garbage strewn throughout this island.

Until we do that, the demographics of our tourism business won’t matter.”

Aging demographic of British tourists prompts questions about the next generation, but we have a more immediate problem…

submitted by Passin Thru

Barbados has never been, and will never be, a mass-tourism destination. We’re too far away from our main European markets, the farthest Caribbean destination from the North American markets, and not different enough from the closer South American markets to ever sustain mass-tourism at competitive rates. Nevermind considerations about the small size of the island, the need to import most supplies for tourists and the overpopulation of the south around the Bridgetown corridor – it is the higher transportation costs and longer time necessary to the destination that ensures we can never be competitive on a mass basis.

And that’s good on the cultural / lifestyle side of the coin, but bad on the economic side.

Barbados has always had to offer something other than mass tourism, and what we chose to offer was the image of luxury and upscale destination where the upper-middle class could run shoulders with the super rich and famous (or at least enjoy the same air and views.)

That choice worked in the past, but there are problems now that the younger generation of Brits (our main market) doesn’t have the money that their parents did.

Blame it on the weak UK / European economies, blame it on out of control EU socialism and mass unsustainable immigration into the UK from Third-World African, Middle East and near-Asian countries. Blame it on whatever you like, but it is obvious that younger Brits don’t have the disposable incomes that their parents once did.

So our largest group of tourists – the Brits – continue to age, while the next generation is either going elsewhere or can’t afford Barbados like they used to.

This is not a good trend for Bim.

What’s to be done about this demographic trend of aging Brit tourists and retirees?

I’m no expert, but obviously from the lack of ideas, plans and strategies emanating from government and the tourism organisations, I’m not the only one without a clue about what to do.

I do have one suggestion though…

Barbados is an upscale tourism destination? Really?

Open your eyes and your nostrils! Clean up the garbage strewn throughout this island.

Until we do that, the demographics of our tourism business won’t matter and we will continue to lose our image of an upscale destination.

Passin Thru

 

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Incentive Travel another opportunity for increasing Barbados tourism… but will we make it happen or just talk?

“When implemented successfully, incentive travel can be a powerful influence of productivity, profitability and loyalty.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

One of the first and largest groups I brought to Barbados was back in the Nineteen Seventies – 72 people in total which included salesmen, their partners, distributors and the company’s senior management. While the firm, Cavalier Caravans, was headquartered in Sweden, it had a substantial manufacturing plant in the Eastern English port town of Felixstowe, which was at that time growing into one of the largest container ports in the world.

The company found itself in a situation where both production and sales were concentrated into particular months and they desperately wanted to try and level the disparity, allowing better control of manufacturing unit costs.

It was easy to identify the month of September, for all sorts of reasons, as being the month that stood out as recording the least number of sales and smallest number of caravans actually being built. We sat down and devised a simple incentive scheme, that if each salesperson exceeded their annual sales target and which were invoiced in that month, they would ‘win’ a 10 day/9 night holiday, each for two persons to Barbados.

To say it was a resounding success is a huge understatement. I quickly learned that travel and experience was a far greater motivation than taxable pay.

When implemented successfully, incentive travel can be a powerful influence of productivity, profitability and loyalty.  Continue reading

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Loveridge: After unprecedented government concessions to Sandals, the company pays only lip service to Bajan agricultural suppliers.

Sandals' Butch Stewart doesn't look like he's starving to death.

Sandals’ Butch Stewart doesn’t look like he’s starving, but little of what he and his resort guests eat is Bajan.

“What must be clear to Government, is that after granting the unprecedented unilateral concessions to Sandals (which almost two years later not a single other hotel on Barbados has been able to obtain), Sandals must do more than give lip service to supporting our agricultural sector.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

First let me declare my absolute and total support for those advocating the use and consumption of more locally produced items especially by our tourism industry.

When the head of the Barbados Agricultural Society recently boasted that Sandals Barbados were purchasing 1,000 lbs of local produce each week, no-one thought to question him as to what this actually means. In all fairness to James Paul, he stated that they were trying to increase this amount, but let’s look at the current figures.

If the hotel is full that is a capacity of 580 guests each night who have every meal and snack included in the cost. This equates to a volume of just 4 ounces per person per day.

And that is before any allowance is made for the quoted 600 staff and management taking meals on the property.

The United States is currently the largest market for Sandals and the average American, according to internet informed information, is 36.6 years of age, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 190 lbs if male, or 5 feet 4 inches and 164 lbs if female. Again based on averages each American consumes nearly 5.5 lbs of food per day or a short ton per annum.

Over a year this includes 29 lbs of French Fries, 23 lbs of pizza, 24 lbs of ice cream, 53 gallons of soda, 24 lbs of artificial sweetener and a staggering 2,736 lbs of sodium, which is 47 per cent above the recommended medical limit. All of which add up to 2,700 calories daily.

The question should also be asked, is the average Sandals guest likely to consume more or less than they do at home than on a fully all-inclusive vacation?

In reality then the 4 ounces of ‘local produce’ represents less than 4 per cent of consumables used daily, therefore a proverbial drop in the ocean. 
Continue reading

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Talk, talk, talk. Does anybody really do anything with new economic and tourism ideas?

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was kind enough to invite me and a large number of representatives from both the private and public sector to a half day discussion forum last week.

To quote their own documentation the objective was to ‘Maximise Bridgetown’s economic and cultural activity’ by leveraging ‘existing institutions (tangible and intangible) and infrastructure (historic buildings and public spaces)’ by garnering ‘support from the local business sector to diversity night-time (after 6 pm) economic and cultural activities’.

Creative suggestions from the attending group flowed like flood water but towards the end of the main session there was one sobering observation by a member of the assembly. He mentioned that he had not heard more than one new idea over the last twenty years.

And that is where the reality kicks in. As a country we do not lack the vision or identifying practical projects. Where we seem to fail dismally is the implementation.

The same person suggested that we needed a fulfillment ‘Czar’ and that comment is probably the one which will stay with me for the longest time out of the entire four hour duration. Whether any administration has the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to make this happen without giving the job to yet another political crony, I seriously doubt, but we can perhaps live in hope.  Continue reading

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