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Barbados holidays could be seriously hurt by tourism cuts

  • 20-Sep-10 14:56
  • Barbados
  • Holiday Industry

Warnings have been issued for Barbados holidays not to fall in the price-slashing campaign being adopted by many other struggling Caribbean holiday destinations. If more cuts are made in the hospitality sector Barbados' image could suffer serious damages

Barbados holidays could be seriously hurt by tourism cuts

Hard times could come for Barbados holiday industry if the country decides to keep slashing prices in the travel and hospitality sector as a result of the economic hardships Caribbean holidays are facing in general. Trying to prevent serious cuts from damaging the overall image of Barbados holidays, Barbados’ tourism industry has been told not to slash prices to get more business through these tough economic times. One reason is that deep cuts can cause some damage to their image as premier product/service providers of luxury holidays in the Caribbean. Another is that heavy discounting will mean below-par revenues for the industry and the Treasury for many years.

Speaking about the future of Barbados holidays if further cuts were to be implemented, two prominent figures in the hospitality industry, Hugh Darley and Alex Sanguinetti, made these recommendations and explanations yesterday when the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association held its third quarterly general meeting at Hilton Barbados. Orlando-based IDEAS Inc.’s Darley, who designed amusement rides at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, referred to the Sandals hotel chain’s 60 % discount for clients. His advice to local tourism operations was: “Don’t do that deep-seated discount. You never get it back. I think it’s going to be really tough to go back to the 100 per cent Sandals branding when they did . . . sell it for 60 per cent off.” He then explained how tourism operations should never “attack” their price but work hard to give clients “so much extra value” for their money.

Sanguinetti on the other hand, director and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, said Barbados hotels and other tourism-related businesses should focus on giving added service and product value on Barbados holidays and avoid cutting rates. “. . . Once you lower your rates, all of the experts have said in this industry that it will take six to eight years for hotel rates to return to the 2008 level, based on prior experience,” - he told the meeting - “That means this industry and the governments are going to look forward to less revenue . . .”

He added that people should not be misled into thinking that Caribbean holidays were doing well simply because some countries were reporting increased arrivals. "The truth was that tourist spending “has been down across the Caribbean”,

Sanguinetti and Darley were among the people taking part in a panel discussion Surviving The Current Economic Climate.

Another participant, Rosalind Jackson, of Caribbean Catalyst, said both employers and workers have to do more to help businesses pull through. She suggested workers “have a more participatory approach to the job”, find ways to improve their value to the organisation and “explore other activities for earning a living” without giving up their jobs. Employers needed to “dig deep” and provide “true” leadership, she said, adding that they should be visible and available to staff and customers and “walk the floor” rather than rely solely on middle managers.

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