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BHTA CEO RUDY GRANT’S ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT -FIRST QUARTERLY GENERAL MEETING March 14, 2018
Published on April 2, 2018

Introduction

Barbados recently obtained the Destination Satisfaction Index (DSI) 2017 Global Award as well as winning the Americas and Accommodation award. These Awards identify Barbados as the number one destination in these three categories. I wish to take this opportunity on behalf of the Chairman, Directors, Staff and members of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association in acknowledging the work of our partners, particularly the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) and all others that have contributed to Barbados obtaining these awards. In particular, I wish to give a special acknowledgement to the Accommodation members of the BHTA in contributing to Barbados being recognized as the global leader for accommodation.

These awards reflect that our overall product offering is of world class standing. This encompasses our beaches, our culinary offerings, the warmth and friendliness of our people along with the safety and security of our destination.  

Current Destination Performance

The tourism industry continues to be a significant pillar of the Barbados economy. During 2017, more long-stay and cruise visitors came to Barbados. The latest arrival statistics provided by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) informs that for the period of January to December 2017, there was overall growth in long-stay visitor arrivals of 5 percent and in cruise passengers by 14.5 percent.

The BHTA STR Report informs that for the year 2017, the overall occupancy for the participating hotels decreased by 4.4% while the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was flat reflecting a 0.1% increase. Revenue Per Average Room (RevPAR) for 2018 showed a decline 4.3%. However, 2018 has provided a very promising start with January 2018 reflecting a 5.3% increase in occupancy and ADR showing a 6.4% increase.

The internal survey of the BHTA reflects that occupancy for the period October 2017 to January 2018 when compared for the corresponding period for 2016/2017 showed a small decline of 1%. There was a 2% increase for the luxury hotels, a 4% decline for A Class and 2% decline for B Class and Apartments. The forward bookings to the month of June are presently pacing below that of 2017. However, it must be noted that the booking patterns are changing with a larger percentage of bookings being undertaken closer to the travel date. 

Based on the statistical information and the reports received from our partners at CHTA Marketplace in Puerto Rico at the end of January and the beginning of February this year, the BHTA is confident that 2018 will provide the opportunity for maintaining the level of business activity for members with the possibility of increase in business. We will continue to monitor and work closely with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), trade partners and members to facilitate growth of this very important industry.

Product Development

As we attract and welcome more visitors to Barbados we have to ensure that we continually improve our product offerings. To date, we have been provided with preliminary estimates of approximately BDS $20 million that will be spent on the refurbishment/renovation of hotels. This includes the following:

  • Rosebank Apartments - $200,000.00 – painting of inside/outside the buildings and the changing of all soft furnishings.
  • Courtyard by Marriott - $1 million – refurbishment of rooms, lobby and restaurant.
  • Butterfly Beach Hotel - $3.5 - $5 million – room upgrades/ remodelling, new furnishings, addition of a new pool and pool repairs, upgrading of the public and restaurant areas
  • Coral Reef Club -  $3 million – interior design work to the bar restaurant and outdoor public areas.
  • Cobblers Cove Hotel - $1.5 to $2 million – addition of rooms, library/ meeting room, two-day rooms; enhancement of the reception, administration and staff changing facilities.
  • Sugar Bay Resort – estimated $400,000.00 – expected to guest rooms and facilities
  • Bougainvillea Beach Resort – estimated $350,000.00 – expected to do adjustments to the facilities and clean-up work from previous project.
  • Worthing Court Hotel – approximately $900,000.00 – repainting of each block, fixture upgrades, addition of balconies on the Deluxe Block, addition of private cabanas and improving landscape features.
  • Beach View Hotel - $100,000 – repainting of rooms, improving pool deck area and changing pool furnishings, the addition of new condos, pools recreational facilities, reception and office areas.
  • South Gap Hotel - $2 million – renovating public areas such as the front desk, pool deck and restaurant areas.
  • The Sandpiper - $400,000.00 – details have not yet been confirmed
  • A further $350,000.00 for works at Sand Acres and $4,000,000.00 for the 25 to 30-unit Banana Boat project.

As previously stated, this is only preliminary information so the expectation is that the total refurbishment will be more than this BDS $20 million presently identified.

It is important that I reiterate a statement which I have previously made. The provisions for the waivers of taxes and duties to hotel operators and tourism enterprises through legislation such as the Tourism Development Act (TDA), the Shipping Incentives Act and others create the opportunity for our tourism enterprises to be globally competitive. The significant annual summer upgrades are as a direct consequence of the ability of our hotels to access the waiver of taxes and duties. This also reflects the commitment of our member properties in providing new and improved accommodation for our visitors.

Advocacy and Membership Issues

The BHTA continues its advocacy and lobbying of government as it relates to the following pertinent issues: 

  • Revised Guidelines for the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL)
  • TDAA Exemptions for Stand-Alone Restaurants
  • Beach Harassment
  • VAT Refunds
  • Land Tax Rebate
  • Visitor Feedback at the Grantley Adams International Airport

On every available occasion we continue to query the status of the Tourism Accommodation (Licensing and Classification) Regulations. The BHTA has been informed that the draft regulations are being awaited from the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC).

These issues require a timelier response from the relevant agencies of government.

Membership

The following actions are being undertaken by the Membership Committee in relation to enhancing value for members:

  1. 1.   New Members:

A review of the new member orientation procedure. The procedure to be followed included:

  1.                         i.         Approval of application by the Membership Committee and then final approval by the Board of Directors.
  2.                       ii.         An email notification to be sent out to the new member advising of their membership approval inclusive of an electronic booklet on the benefits of membership.
  3.                      iii.         The provision of a welcome package.
  4.                     iv.         Invitation to a membership orientation session.
  1. 2.   Existing Members:

The organization of a Speed Networking Session followed by a Members Mingle to be held on May 24, 2018.

  1. 3.   Membership Benefits:

Discussion on various value-added components which could be pursued to increase the benefits to members.

  1. 4.   Advertising Opportunities- BHTA Resource Guide:

The Resource Guide is to be further enhanced to allow the opportunity for additional members to advertise in this Guide.

New Membership Focus

The other matters which we have provided support to members have been member specific and members are encouraged to continue to inform us of any business challenges which they are having.

The BHTA welcomed the new Membership Relations Officer (MRO), Ms. Sunita Jones on February 12, 2018. We look forward to working with Sunita as we work assiduously to resolve member issues.

At present, we are thoroughly going through our membership database to ensure that it is properly updated. As we update our database, we are also focusing on ensuring that the BHTA members are financial. As CEO, I intend make a recommendation to the Directors at the April Board of Directors meeting for the removal of those tourism enterprises which are not up to date on their membership dues or have not made an arrangement with the secretariat for the elimination of their arrears.  Members are reminded that they participate in the Group Medical Plan on the basis of being a financial member with the BHTA.

BHTA Group Employee Benefits Plan

As it relates to the BHTA Group Employee Benefits Plan we propose in collaboration with CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers (Barbados) Ltd. to host Educational Workshops for members’ employees. The Plan was renewed on February 1, 2018 and there have been some upward adjustments in rates. Both CGM and the BHTA are of the opinion that these workshops can benefit employees by familiarising them with how such Plans operate and how the Plan can be used to effectively receive the benefits while not causing rates to increase.

South Coast Sewerage Plant Issues

Our members particularly in the area of Lanterns Mall and Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary have been challenged with the issues related to the South Coast Sewerage Plant. While there have been some concerns in other areas such as St. Lawrence Gap, these have been short-lived. We have publicly stated our concerns as well as offer recommendations to the Government of Barbados. The management of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has been very responsive to the BHTA and its members.

To assist us in better understanding the magnitude of the impact of the South Coast Sewerage Plant issues on our members, the Secretariat executed surveys for our Accommodation and Direct Tourism Services (DTS) members as well as to engage in discussions with selected members. The period specified in our survey was December 2017 to February 2018. The survey sought to investigate cancellations for this same period when compared to the corresponding period for 2016/2017. All Accommodation members reporting informed that cancellations for this period were higher than for the corresponding period. As an example, for one property losses for this three-month period amounted to BDS $22,000.00 more for the 2017/2018 period than for the corresponding period while for another property cancellations amounted to in excess of BDS $200,000.00 when comparing the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 periods. In addition to the cancellations, some members also have to spend money on measures to mitigate against further revenue loss such as contracting the services of private Solid Waste Management companies.

It is our intention to continue to pursue the matter of compensation for our affected members. Members are therefore encouraged to provide the BHTA with all the relevant information.

Marketing Activities

The following marketing activities have been actioned during the first quarter of 2018:

Facebook promotion

Twenty-five (25) of our members participated in a Facebook Promotion Campaign during the last week in February, 2018. The objective of the campaign was to encourage regional visitors to take advantage of LIAT’s special fare to Barbados that ended on February 28th with travel up to April 30, 2018. The campaign was extended to the first week in March to further increase the visibility of the BHTA-member hotels. The target markets were Trinidad, St. Lucia and Grenada. The Facebook campaign was embedded on the BHTA’s Facebook page and included Facebook ads that linked persons to a page that featured the participating properties.  This promotion was undertaken in collaboration with Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB). 

Culinary Team

The Barbados Culinary Competition took place February 7-9, 2018.

This competition selects the chefs that will be trained and from which a team to represent Barbados at the Caribbean and Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Taste of the Caribbean culinary competition in Miami, June 22 – 26, 2018. 

Ten (10) pastry chefs, fifteen (15) cuisine chefs and nine (9) bartenders participated in the competition. The results were as follows:

 

 

Barbados Culinary Chef of the Year (2018)

Barbados Pastry Chef of the Year

Barbados Bartender of the Year

Barbados Junior Chef of the Year

Winner

Damian Leach – Cocktail Kitchen

Rodney Corbin -Sea Breeze Beach Hotel

Shane McClean – Buzo Ostoria Italiana

Shamar Bishop – Cocktail kitchen

2nd

Nicholas Ifill – Seabreeze beach Hotel

Jamal Whittaker -Coral Reef Club 

Adrian Bryan - Mount Gay Distilleries  

Kiara Riley – Sea Breeze Beach Hotel

3rd

Willis Griffith – Nino’s by the Sea

Ezra Beckles - Turtle Beach Resort

Alex Chandler - Bar by Infusion

 

4th

Derio Boyce – Ocean Two Hotel

Shanese Phoenix - Crystal Cove Hotel

 

 

TDC/MTW Road Signage

The BHTA is working with the TDC to replace and enhance road signs in various areas around the island. The BHTA and TDC logos will be included on the signage.

Run Barbados 2018

The BHTA and the Tourism Development Corporation are providing sponsorship to the Run Barbados event.  Run Barbados attracts international competitors, their family and their fans who are accommodated in member properties. 

Chefette Fun Run 2018

The money raised from the Chefette Fun Run is donated to disadvantaged children specifically the Aunty Olga’s Needy Children's Fund managed by Variety Barbados, The Precious Touch Foundation and The YWCA Breakfast Program. The BHTA agreed to the sponsoring of T-Shirts branded with the BHTA logo which will be sold to assist these charity activities.

Rugby Barbados World 7s 2018

The BHTA is providing sponsorship support for the Rugby Barbados World 7s event through accommodation and sponsoring ground transportation.  This sporting event is gaining momentum and has the potential for further growth in 2018 and beyond.

Dive Fest Barbados 2018

Dive Fest Barbados 2018 is scheduled to take place Wednesday July 4 – 7, 2018. This event seeks to increase awareness of the coastal and marine environs while promoting Barbados as a destination for marine activity.  The BHTA is collaborating with TDC and the BTMI in the staging of this event.

This year, the goals of Dive Fest Barbados are to:

  • Teach 200 Barbadian children to swim
  • Host a Fun Day event for the children of tourists between the ages 8 -16
  • Educate children on the importance of protecting the marine environment and of overall awareness about our oceans
  • Facilitate Beach clean ups
  • Promote scuba diving, snorkeling and free diving as an activity for locals and visitors
  • Encouraging appreciation for marine life.

MICE and Romance Product Clubs

The MICE and Romance Product clubs have been developing plans to increase membership and also identify strategies to promote the specific markets. The Romance Product club as identified one of its goals to increase visibility of the local wedding and romance market through the use of social media.

BHTA/BWU Negotiations

The BHTA/BWU negotiation meetings are ongoing. Discussions have been progressing well.

Conclusion

The first quarter provides a very promising start for the 2018 calendar year. The CHTA Marketplace meetings with trade partners highlighted that Barbados is still a destination that is top of mind and which has the potential for further growth. We have to be cognizant of the fact that this a fast paced globally dynamic industry. We must therefore equip ourselves to function in this type of global environment.

I would have earlier referenced the legislation which facilitates the waiver of taxes and duties and allows for tourism enterprises to be more competitive. However, it is still difficult for members to access the benefits provided by the TDA, TDAA, Shipping Incentives Act etc. If we wish to continue to be globally competitive and facilitate the development of this industry then the roadblocks which impede progress have to be removed.

We commit to exploring with our partners those options which will facilitate greater benefits to our members and to work tirelessly on your behalf.    


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