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CEO RUDY GRANT'S ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT - FOURTH QUARTERLY GENERAL MEETING, DECEMBER 13, 2017
Published on December 18, 2017

INTRODUCTION

It was just a year ago that I was being introduced to you at the 2016 December Quarterly General Meeting as the new CEO of this Association. This December QGM therefore represents my first Anniversary with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA). It has been an exciting year characterized with challenges and opportunities that have assisted us in building a stronger Association.

The Fourth Quarterly signals that our members are maintaining their competitive positions in the industry. We are continuing our advocacy for members while also focusing on providing greater value through support for selected marketing programmes and collaboration with the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) to provide improvement to our product offering. In addition, we continue to work closely with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) in supporting their destination promotions, particularly FAM trips, as well as other, marketing activities. Despite the challenges which we have had to confront in the past and undoubtedly will also confront in the future, our expectation is that our members will realise a better performance in 2018 when compared to 2017.

CURRENT DESTINATION PERFORMANCE

For the period January to October 2017, the latest overall long-stay visitor arrivals statistics inform that the total number of visitors coming to Barbados has increased by 6.46% from 501,380 in 2016 to 533,296 in 2017. In the major source markets, the USA increased by 14.2%, Canada increased by 9.86% while the United Kingdom was flat with growth of 0.7%. The STR Report which provides information for BHTA member properties participating informs that for the same period, January to October 2017, occupancy for BHTA member properties increased by 1.7% while the Average Daily Rate (ADR) was flat with a 0.9% increase.

For the 2017 winter period, we expect that there will be a slight growth in the occupancy for our member properties. It is of note that, based on our internal surveys, the luxury category is showing growth in the region of 3% while the “A” and “B” Class properties are projecting similar occupancy to the winter of 2016.

The refurbishments and renovations which have been facilitated through the use of the Tourism Development Act (TDA) have contributed to this performance by allowing our properties to be more competitive. The new Sandals Royal Barbados with its 222 rooms with butler and concierge suites; the refurbishments and renovations to properties such as Divi Southwinds, Fairmont Royal Pavilion and Sea Breeze Beach Hotel to name a few are providing the ability for Barbados to continue to expand its tourism industry by allowing our accommodation sub-sector to compete in this fiercely competitive global tourism industry. 

We will shortly be requesting information from our members concerning their planned renovations and refurbishments for the summer of 2018.

The performance of the cruise sector continues to be admirable with an increase of 18.9% in cruise calls and 18.2% increase in cruise passengers for the period January to October 2017. The growth in overall cruise passengers is expected to continue throughout the winter season. The homeporting programme along with the cruise and stay segment is providing positive benefits for our members.

AIR TRANSPORTATION

The increasing overall long-stay visitor arrivals into Barbados is being supported by the airlift coming out of our major source markets. The JetBlue Sunday service out of Boston will start on Sunday, December 17 and will operate throughout the winter season. There is also additional airlift being provided by Virgin Atlantic on Tuesdays and Saturdays out of Heathrow. The first Tuesday, Virgin Heathrow flight arrived yesterday. This service is also for the winter period. Further, there is also the new Thomas Cook service out of Gatwick which is in addition to their regular Manchester service. The JetBlue airways service out of Newark started on 18th November and continues until 28th April, 2018.

These are only the new airlift services which I have highlighted and are in addition to the regular flights which we receive.

While we are satisfied with the airlift coming into Barbados we continue to be concerned with the passenger facilitation when persons arrive at the Grantley Adams International Airport. Although there has been some improvement it is still necessary that further improvements are made.

The first experience of Barbados which our visitors have is at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA). You will continually observe my references to our functioning in a globally competitive industry where Barbados as a destination is competing with countries throughout the globe. Our ability to facilitate the expansion of our tourism industry requires that there is continuous improvement in our processes and that the visitor experience is exceptional. It is therefore critical for action to be taken to alleviate the excessive waiting period between arrival at GAIA and exiting the airport. Our success requires that we benchmark our operations against the best globally.

The BHTA will continue to collaborate with all the relevant stakeholders in our quest to guarantee an exceptional experience for visitors at GAIA.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Comments were made earlier concerning refurbishments, renovations and new plant which are providing additional rooms. In addition to expanding our room stock, it is also important that we promote new activities and attractions for visitors.

The BHTA continues to support product development initiatives by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA). The BTPA has been working with Barbadians to promote additional activities for our visitors to enjoy. Through the National Tourism Host Programme, the BTPA is facilitating the opportunity for visitors to “Dine with A Bajan”.

The Barbados Sugar & Rum Season will be for the period January 15 to April 115, 2018. This activity provides the opportunity for visitors to be exposed to Barbados’ rich heritage and includes sugar and rum cooking classes, chocolate making classes, mixology shows, rum distillery tours among other activities.

The ability for us to allow visitors to experience elements of being a “Bajan” will undoubtedly contribute to the authenticity of their experience.

TOURISM ACCOMMODATION (LICENSING AND CLASSIFICATION) REGULATIONS

As you are aware the BHTA is of the opinion that the appropriate regulation of accommodation providers is important to ensure that we do not compromise ‘Brand Barbados’. The latest information received is that the drafting instructions for Tourism Accommodation (Licensing and Classification) Regulations will soon be submitted to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.

We continue to advocate for inclusion of stand-alone restaurants to benefit from waiver of taxes and duties under the Tourism Development (Amendment) Act (TDAA). Progress on this has been slow even though we have been informed that there are no major concerns in providing the waivers once stand-alone restaurants meet the same criteria as restaurants attached to a hotel.

ADVOCACY AND MEMBERSHIP ISSUES

The BHTA continues to provide advocacy in the following areas:

  • NSRL Guidelines
  • TDAA Exemptions for Stand-Alone Restaurants
  • Better operations of the TDA and TDAA
  • Folkestone MMA
  • Beach Harassment and
  • Destination Cleanliness

MAJOR ISSUES

Barbados Water Authority (BWA)

BHTA representatives met with the General Manager and the Manager of the BWA’s Wastewater Division to discuss the issue of the sewage and low water pressure on the south coast. The CEO of the BHTA has recommended that at a time convenient to the management of the BWA a meeting should be convened with BHTA members on the south coast. 

LOW WATER PRESSURE

Member hotels in the vicinity of St. Lawrence Gap informed the BHTA that there are at times experiencing low water pressure. This problem occurs periodically and the response of the BWA in providing water tankers has been beneficial to our members with water storage tanks. We continue to monitor this issue and wish to work with the BWA to ensure that there is minimal impact. The BWA has recommended that all our member properties explore the option of obtaining water storage tanks. We will be having further dialogue on this issue.

SEWAGE ON THE SOUTH COAST

The CEO of the BHTA issued a statement to the press concerning this disturbing issue. We wish to reiterate that it is imperative that we safeguard the welfare and well-being of Barbadians and visitors. There needs to be an immediate short-term remedy with a medium to long-term plan for the elimination of this situation. This issue highlights financial and health risks which could be devastating to us. It is evident that a new Sewage Treatment Plant is required or a substantial refurbishment of the existing plant is needed. This type of solution is not short-term and therefore a more immediate short-term remedy is required. The BHTA has indicated its willingness to work with the BWA to eliminate such hazardous challenges.

BHTA/BWU NEGOTIATIONS

The BHTA began negotiations with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) concerning the new Memorandum of agreement (MOA). To date, three (3) meetings have been held with the BWU and discussions are progressing satisfactorily. Our desire is to conclude the new MOA by the end of January 2018.

IDB MIF PROJECT

The BHTA has submitted Milestone 5 for the IDB MIF Project. The Board of Directors of the BHTA have approved collaboration with the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation (BADMC) in order to execute this project. Members will recall that the BHTA is also proposing to partner with the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) as it relates to a central packaging facility. The BHTA is proposing the linking of the tourism and agricultural sectors components in two phases.

Phase 1 is the “Pack House “collaboration with BADMC while Phase 2 is the “Central Packaging Facility” component with the BAS. Meetings will take place shortly which will provide for specific produce to be available to the fifteen participating hotels. Members are encouraged to support this programme. The desire is to bring an additional fifteen hotels and restaurants on to this programme by August 31, 2017.

CARIBBEAN SOCIETY OF HOTEL ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVES RETREAT (CSHAE) 2017

The CSHAE Retreat which was held in St. Lucia from November 15 to 18, 2017 provided an opportunity for the Hotel Association Executives from the recently hurricane-impacted areas of Anguilla, Dominica, Turks & Caicos, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten to share their experiences with their counterparts. In many instances the systems and procedures they had in place did not work. The session which we had on disaster management, communicated the chilling experience of the impact of a major hurricane and the devastating reality of the destruction from the torment of wind and rain that negatively affected the way of life in these tourism dependent countries. The images and the emotion of my affected counterparts reinforced the need for us to not only put procedures and mechanisms in place but to also test the plans which we have.

The importance we give to this issue is reflected in the fact that the BHTA has Disaster Management as a standard item on the agenda for the Board of Directors meetings.

DISASTER MANAGEMENT SEMINAR

Following the recent natural disasters that significantly impacted some of our regional neighbours, the BHTA hosted a disaster management seminar to update members on the need for detailed emergency plans. The seminar entitled “Managing Risks for a Safer Tourism Plant” was held on November 23, 2017, at the Savannah Hotel. This was a “standing room only” event.

Presentations were made by:

  • Ms. Kerry Hinds, Director of the Department of Emergency Planning who gave a comprehensive overview of Emergency Management Structure as it relates to tourism and how to prepare for a disaster based on the checklist of activities presented.
  • Mr. Clairmont Williams, Deputy Director (AG) Barbados Meteorological Services whom detailed the products and services of the Barbados Meteorological Office to help members to understand the weather forecast and bulletins, in the event of a weather-related disaster.
  • Mr. Mark Blakely, Vice President, Marketing, Sagicor General Insurance Inc. who gave a thought-provoking presentation including how to minimize property loss; the types of insurance relevant to the tourism sector and the impact of the losses in terms of re-insurance.
  •  Ms. Shalini Jagnarine-Azan, President, InstructE whom discussed the devastation of hurricanes as seen in a video presentation on Dominica.

The common theme of the presentations was the need to be prepared. Those who attended were informed that preparation is considered an insurance for recovery after a natural disaster. The extent to which preparations are made will determine how much is saved after a natural disaster. According to Ms. Hinds, studies show for every US$ dollar spent in preparation provides for a saving of USD $4.00

TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (TDC)

The BHTA continues to partner with the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) to support relevant activities. During this last quarter, we have partnered with TDC in providing sponsorship support for Rugby Barbados Worlds 7s, Run Barbados and Barbados Open Water Festival. The TDC also provided equal sponsorship as the BHTA for the Barbados booth at World Travel Market 2017.

BARBADOS HOTEL AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION UWI SCHOLARSHIPS

The BHTA finalized documentation for the offering of two (2) scholarships at the undergraduate level and one (1) scholarship at the graduate level to Barbadian students pursuing tourism studies at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.

The Undergraduate Award is being given for a maximum of two (2) years in the case of a full-time student and three (3) years for a part-time student with a value equal to the tuition fee applicable to the Social Science Faculty. Students who have attained a GPA of 3.0 and above are eligible for the undergraduate award. 

The Postgraduate Award will be for a period of eighteen (18) months in the case of full-time study and two and a half (2.5) years in the case of part-time study. This award is to assists with the tuition cost.

We look forward to participating with the University of the West Indies in facilitating these scholarships.

WORLD TRAVEL MARKET (WTM) 2017

The 38th World Travel Market was held from November 6 to 8, 2017 in London, U.K. WTM is considered the leading event for the travel industry and presents substantial business opportunities for the promotion of our destination. 

This year, the Barbados booth was extremely popular featuring a visual display in national colours; some of our Crop Over/ Kadooment costumes and culinary demonstrations by Chef Jason Howard and Mixologist Ryan Adamson, a member of the BHTA culinary team and the CHTA, Caribbean Bartender of the Year 2017.

The Barbados team focused on informing global media that Barbados was not affected by the recent hurricanes and that we are “open for business”.

Elements of the “Immense, Inspire, Indulge campaign embodying the BTMI Winter Media Plans were highlighted to capture the attention of the travel market. Barbados product offerings were also promoted and the ease of getting to Barbados via the efficient and regular airlift was highlighted.  We also informed the extremely high quality of our accommodation, coupled with our exciting attractions and the overall physical development of our tourism product.

REVITALIZATION OF PRODUCT CLUBS

The Romance and the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) Product Clubs were relaunched in October 2017. The clubs are being led by Anderson Daniel of Barefoot Meetings and Incentives Inc. and Shelly Williams of Platinum Services Ltd., respectively the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Romance Product Club. While Helen Schur Parris of Sunlinc, is the Chairman of the MICE product club and Nicholas Alleyne of Blu Isles Inc. is the Deputy Chairman. 

The focus of the BHTA through these product clubs is to pursue initiatives that will assist in the growth, development, and marketing of these important niches. In October, the BHTA in partnership with the TDC and BTMI facilitated members attending the 3-day IMEX 2017 Exhibition in Las Vegas. Annually, this event attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors and approximately 3,500 buyers from all sectors. The BHTA members who attended IMEX were satisfied with the quality of buyers at the event and the success of the group meetings. Helen Parris reported that the overall interest in Barbados was strong and that the prescheduled client meetings were well attended by buyers and provided quality leads for members.

The Romance Product Club is in the process of developing a social media plan to ensure that they have conversations with existing and potential clients on platforms where the clients are constantly engaging. The BHTA recognises that the development of social media platforms is extremely critical to the romance niche. Creating Facebook pages, Instagram and Snap Chat accounts can showcase our unique wedding market as well as provide information to clients about the efficiency of our services.

CULINARY TEAM

For more than twenty-five years the BHTA has been working with the Barbados Culinary Team. This symbiotic relationship assists with the development of local chefs and Barbados’ culinary offerings, as well as assisting in promoting the excellent cuisine that is synonymous with the Barbados Brand. The Culinary Team led by Mr.  Henderson Butcher, were recognised at a BHTA organized prize-giving ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for their outstanding performance at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism (CHTA) 2017 Taste of the Caribbean.

Members of the team which includes Team Manager- Chef Henderson Butcher, Team Training Assistant - Chef Glenroy Alleyne, Bartender Training Manager - Jamaal Bowen, Chefs Damian Leach, Willis Griffith, Kirk Ruck, Andre Nurse, Javon Cummins and Ron Maynard, Junior Chef Nicolas Ifill, and Mixologist Ryan Adamson, all received significant prizes including staycations, tours, safaris, golf club membership, lunch cruises and dinner shows generously donated by BHTA members.

In her address to the team, BHTA Chairman, Roseann Myers encouraged the culinary team to consider exporting their services internationally.  She also indicated that the BHTA was setting objectives with a specific focus on creativity and skill in the Culinary Arts.

We wish to thank all of our members who have generously made financial donations to assist with the purchase of equipment and other materials to allow our team to be adequately prepared.

NEW MEMBERS

This year we have continued to welcome new members to the BHTA. I wish to take this opportunity to extend thanks and best wishes to Tomlin Insurance Brokers, Williams Tours Barbados, Enterra Trading Co. Ltd, St. Lawrence Beach Condos/ St. Lawrence Beach Corporation and West Bar Restaurant / Savvy Bar & Restaurant Inc for becoming BHTA members. I wish to encourage you to participate in our many committees which expose you to the work which the BHTA has been doing but which will also help to make our association stronger.

Merry Christmas

I wish to take this opportunity to extend Seasons Greetings to all members and those of you present today. Christmas is a time for us to give and share with family and friends but also for us to share with those who are less fortunate and who require a helping hand. I encourage you this Christmas season to give to those in need and share the joy, love and peace of Christmas.

 

Merry Christmas!

 


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