Submitted by Looking Glass
As was noted in Published Statistics Tell A False Story (Jan 2012) we continue to delight in creating among other things false, fictitious statistics. In so doing we mislead the public and the government who should know better. Covered in gold they lead to fallacious diagnosis, analysis and lead to fallacious remedies. One wonders why those responsible for Tourism have not found it necessary to tell people the truth.
According to Loveridge in 2008-2011 we averaged 546,533 long stay visitor arrivals each year. In the previous 4 years (2004-2007) the average was 558,632 for a decline 50,000 (BFP 25/11/2-12). We have never accommodated 546,533 long stay visitors in a single year before, not even in the glory days of Tourism. If that was indeed the case then why would 30 or more hotels/guest houses have closed in the last 15 or so years?
The CEO of the BTA tells us “over 700,000 have visited Barbados between January and July this year, with a record thus far of 58,720 flying into the country last month.” (Advocate 8/11/2 011). This at the height of the world recession, high unemployment and household indebtedness in our largest markets. Not even Jamaica, the Bahamas or Mexico could make this claim. Are all the above figures a misprint on the part of the newspaper? If so why wasn’t it corrected?
Now the GAIA Inc tells us that “approximately 145,000 flight and cruise passengers from 250 charter flights expected for the 2012 winter (Advocate Nov 25, 2012). Exactly how many cruise lines come to Barbados and how many tourist ships arrive in the winter? We have never before been visited by 250 charter flights in a single winter season or in a single year. Cruise line passengers hang around only for a single day.
Does anyone do research or do we merely write what we believe and or are told? Consider the following: the recession is not yet over and you are the most expensive tourist country in the region. The state of household and personal indebtedness, job loss and increasing living cost in North America which is our biggest market and the UK significantly reduced whatever comparative we may have had. St Vincent is building a new airport to accommodate large aircraft, Delta going direct to Grenada, Air Jamaica to Guyana and Caribbean Airline operating out of Toronto, New York and the UK. And the airlines servicing Barbados are expensive. So expect even the amount of intransits to decline.
And BA we are told is “projecting 72,000 visitors arriving here every week” (Nation Nov 10, 2012). According to the Minister BA will increase flights from 7 to 10 per week, and Virgin will provide 9 flights per week from Gatwick and 2 from Manchester (Advocate Nov 22, 2012). As per BBC World News report of December 3, 2012, BA is about to reduce flights and lay off staff. He also gives the assurance that “creative initiatives are being implemented to ensure sustainability of the sector.” They include sports, cultural and culinary tourism (Advocate 12/10/2012). Regarding sports athletics is a bad word there, and a yearly regional and or international cricket tournament is out of the question. Given that we are the most expensive destination in the region how many visitors will cricket and or any other sport attract? Re culture read Tourism In Perspective (Feb, 2010); also Tourism Another Look (Dec, 2009).
Tourism biggest problem lies in Marketing. The North American travel media and newspapers are filled with advertisements and articles about the region’s tourist countries but hardly anything about Barbados. The advertised hotel prices like the airline costs are cheaper. There is a case to be made for a Barbados airlift that is not dependant on seasonal carriers or the whims and fancy of vertically integrated travel conglomerates. If we are serious about moving ahead with tourism consider providing our own low cost airlift to service North America and the UK. You have not the wherewithal to do it alone. So to this end I strongly suggest again you suggest consult with VIRGIN AIR in the UK.