Tourism Matters: Brexit and the Caribbean tourism industry

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Adrian Loveridge has spent 52 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. www.re-discover.com

By Adrian Loveridge

This week’s column comes from within the United Kingdom with the continued Brexit debacle hanging a massive question mark and uncertainty, over the tourism industry.

While the value of Sterling against other major currencies has for decades been volatile, tour operators are left to second guess what a realistic exchange rate will be for the US$ and Euro next year in order to price their holiday offerings.  Combine that with increasing oil prices raising the cost of A1 aviation fuel and it’s already a double whammy.

Tourism Matters: The falling value of Sterling and British visitors

Then add in that almost everything imported into the UK will cost more after October 31, resulting in depleted discretionary spending for every British family and you begin to comprehend the concern from what remains our largest single visitor market.

With the huge increases in the cost of flying to and staying on Barbados through the introduction of additional departure taxes, accommodation and ancillary tourism levies imposed in October 2018, many of our normally loyal visitors are already questioning whether or not they can afford to return.

For potentially new visitors, they increasingly question where they cannot obtain better value-for-money. When you see return airfares from Britain to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and all-inclusive holidays to the Indian Ocean priced at less than a comparable period to Barbados, not surprisingly, destination choices are seriously considered.

Of course, our tourism providers in Barbados have not been spared staggering increases in operating costs and it has become almost impossible to absorb them anymore, without bringing business viability and reduction in staffing levels into question.

One of our restaurant partners recently indicated that they could no longer accept the BDS$99 per person rate for our re-Discover special dinner offering. Completely understandable. However, BDS$99 at the current rate of exchange is around £41 –  and apart from our more well-heeled guests, hardly a bargain to the vast majority.

To put this in perspective, my brother and I, recently ate at a large chain carvery restaurant, where the main course with almost unlimited sides plus a choice of several delicious desserts cost BDS$18 each.

The long-haul holiday report put together by Post Office Money and Travelbag measures the cost of ten everyday holiday purchases across 34 popular long-haul destinations.  In 2018 Barbados recorded a 20 percent increase for this basket’ – the second highest across the 34.

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