By Adrian Loveridge
If I had a tourism wish list for 2016, it might look a lot like this and not necessarily in any particular order, that:
Adrian Loveridge has spent 46 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism issues
1) Norwegian Airways code shares with JetBlue to seamlessly connect their nonstop Scandinavian flights through the new service to Fort Lauderdale to Barbados from April.
2) The same Norwegian Airways operates a route from Dublin or Belfast to Barbados in partnership with St Lucia or Grenada as a triangle service to minimise the initial financial risk.
3) Thomas Cook brings back its new flight from Glasgow in winter 2016/2017 and keeps it going weekly from November to April. Glasgow is closer to Barbados than Gatwick and this service saves our Scottish visitors unnecessary inter-UK flights, trains and overnight airport accommodation.
4) WestJet operates a seasonal (October until May) Winnipeg to Barbados flight. They have long range versions of the B737 that are quite capable of covering the six-hour journey nonstop.
5) Air Canada operates a nonstop winter service from Ottawa, initially just one day a week, ideally on a Saturday or Sunday. Again, by Great Circle measurement, Ottawa is closer to Barbados than Toronto.
6) Twenty percent of the annual spendable budget allocated to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) is placed into an ‘opportunity fund’ to drive up to ten private sector-led promotions each year. The BMTI contribution would be matched by the participating partners and each initiative would be carefully monitored and assessed for cost effectiveness after implementation.
7) Stand-alone restaurants are given the same duty-free concessions as those promised to hotels.
8) The rate of VAT on car rental and all other registered tourism entities, pay the same lower percentage as already granted to hotels.
9) Our villa rental agencies work together in joint marketing initiatives to spread destination awareness and lower individual company advertising costs.
10) A Barbadian who has had a proven exemplary career in tourism is finally considered for a national honour, devoid of party political influence.
In reality, sadly I don’t reasonably expect any or all of the above to be put in place, but no one can stop me wishing and hoping.
Changing the subject, I am still trying to comprehend what the likely overall effect the hiking of the VAT threshold to $200,000 per annum is going to have on consumer prices, especially in the tourism industry and particularly in the accommodation sector.
There is already a massive grey area of taxation on unlicensed villas and apartments, including overseas residents who may rent out their second homes for instance, as just one example.
Just a glimpse at lodging websites like AirBNB clearly shows that hundreds, if not thousands of properties are not registered at all.
$200,000 per year could represent five rooms each over the year being rented out for 200 nights at US$100 per day. Do these unlicensed accommodation offerings currently charge, pay or claim VAT on inputs now?
Could some research be gleamed from completed landing cards?
I also wonder if the current administration has really thought this through and has even tried to calculate the potential cause and effect.