By Adrian Loveridge
Even after fifty years in the tourism industry, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how the industry is constantly changing and barely a day goes by without some new insight or revelation emerging that affects the way we do business.
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
Probably one of the biggest paradigm shifts has been the internet and this is still constantly evolving. Concepts that ten or twenty years ago would have then been thought far-fetched are today in everyday practice generating new sources of revenue and employment.
But I wonder if we place a high enough value on the source and management relating to much of this information, particularly when you see websites at a national level being so poorly maintained and frequently found outdated.
For many visitors, especially those travelling here for the first time, this is often an early point of reference to assist in decision making and selection choice. Therefore it is critical that the quality of our site has to be at least to the standard of our competitors.
Hopefully this will become a priority for the new Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), and they will return the day-to-day operation of www.visitbarbados.org
to local people with proven ability, knowledge and who fully understand the product offering.
Another area of concern is the tardy release to the public and industry of tourism arrival figures. It is difficult to understand why details are not disclosed until weeks after the stay-over dates. Surely, they are compiled on a weekly basis, with no part of the month requiring more than seven days, to evaluate and report.
March 2014 numbers were finally posted on the Barbados Statistical Service website on May 5, showing a 5.6 per cent decline of stay-over visitors when compared with the same month, last year.
Yet again it is not a happy picture and absolutely contrary to the earlier heady predictions made by our policymakers of a good winter season.
Chiefly concerning was that the USA was down again by 19 percent, Canada by 14.1 percent, Trinidad and Tobago by 21.5 percent and other CARICOM by 15.3 percent. The UK recorded a 4.9 percent (900 persons) increase and other Europe 28.6 percent (809 persons).
However, this did not mitigate an overall decline of 3,000 visitors across all markets for the entire month.
It was very refreshing to see the new interim BTA CEO/president solicit the views of many diverse people within the sector and I am sure the vast majority of the industry hopes that this will help stem almost two years of decline. Collectively, meaningful solutions can and must be found, but unless they are fully implemented, it remains a pretty pointless exercise.