Tag Archives: Virgin Atlantic

Will Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Cruises base at least one new cruise ship in Barbados?

Sir Richard Branson - lucky old bastard!

Sir Richard Branson – lucky old bastard! *

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While the concept was rolled out some time ago, the details were largely announced in a media conference which took place at the Museum Park in Miami last week.

Never shy of dominating the global limelight, Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Cruises should have three brand new Italian built ships in the water by 2020, each with a mid-size capacity of 2,800 passengers and around 110,000 gross tons. www.virgincruises.com

I will not insult readers to guess the planned colour of these new vessels and it perhaps sets new parameters for the cruising industry, opening it up to a whole new market with a brand that is among the strongest on the planet. The placard statement ‘let’s make waves’ emblazoned on the arrival helicopter carrying Sir Richard said it all.

Virgin will have a huge marketing advantage by having its own airline and through the joint holding it has with Delta Airlines, the United States second largest carrier.

The first ship will operate out of the Port of Miami, the cruise capital of the world, with a quoted throughput of 4.8 million multi-day passengers in 2014 operating 7 day Caribbean cruises.

But there is an incredible opportunity for Barbados – if we can make it happen. With the Delta flights servicing two of the largest airports in the USA, Atlanta and New York and Virgin Atlantic proving the only scheduled carrier to operating direct flights out of two major British hubs, Gatwick and Manchester, could the second or third ship, homeport from Barbados?

This would give travellers a myriad of holiday options. Fly from the UK to Barbados, cruise to another island and fly back to England from there. All with the same airline and cruise brand.

By enticing Virgin Cruises to Barbados, it could directly benefit us in so many ways. Stay and cruise options, provisioning and higher employment on the ships with more ‘locals’ are among the potential.

So what could persuade Virgin Cruises to position one ship here?

Of course there are historic precedents of subsidising selected tourism partners.   Continue reading

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Was the Barbados Minister of Tourism aware of Virgin Atlantic’s massive seat cuts?

“If you were aware of such a massive cut in Virgin’s seat capacity, would you spend so much of the available Barbados tourism marketing budget on a heavily discounted programme?”

Was the Barbados Tourism Authority blindsided when launching the new tourist subsidy?

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Sometimes timing can be everything and that has left me to question the recent launch of the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion.

On Saturday 20th April 2013, the Minister of Tourism held a local media conference to launch the initiative, which according to reports is expected to cost a staggering 11 per cent of the annual budget of the Barbados Tourism Authority. Without wanting to repeat information already in the public domain, the objective is to drive an ‘additional’ 15,000 long stay visitors this year, who are expected to spend $30 million.

Tourism Minister Sealy

Tourism Minister Sealy

The following week the Minister then traveled to the United Kingdom, where, I believe, he met with several British travel interests, including both Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Holidays. On his return, the Minister appeared on a 45 minute long CBC News Extra programme, where he was the only speaker. While TV8 clearly had a full hour available, no time whatsover was allocated to attending  journalists so they could pose any questions, they may have wished to ask.

Personally, I think this was a huge mistake.  It gives the impression either that there is no accountability and/or,  it is not important to keep the public (and industry) fully and accurately informed.

Then just days later, something truly dramatic happened, that appears to have caught many major private sector local tourism players completely by surprise. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism