Tourism after Crop-Over
After the Crop-Over Festival what can we expect in terms of tourism performance for the next couple of months. Let me start by stating that this year’s Crop-Over celebrations run deeper into August than they traditionally would.
Over the last two years, the activities would have ended within the first couple of days of the month. With Kadooment coming on August 6 this year, the festival calendar has been extended, and that is a good thing.
August has traditionally been the best of the summer months for us here in Barbados, and even with our major source markets still facing unprecedented downward economic performance, there is still enough activity taking place to keep the August performance intact. The Diaspora Conference, which ends on August 10, and a number of family reunions currently taking place are driving this activity.
September has been our most difficult summer month for many years and this year is not expected to be any different. Back to school and economic troubles worldwide are enough to sustain the worry over this period. My predication is that this September is going to be one of the most testing months that we would have faced since the economic downturn started in 2008.
One may ask the reasonable question: “What can we do about it?” I do not believe that there is any simple answer. What I am certain about however, is that we cannot discount our way through it. Everyone I know has some form of discount in the market place already. There is a point at which further discounting does not make sense, as that approach places the business under cash management stress because the debt increases faster than revenue can be generated.
Domestic tourism is one possible answer to the September shortfall. Barbadians have been taking full advantage of the Staycation specials being offered across this island. While I agree that a local staying in hotels does not generate foreign exchange, it certainly reduces foreign outflows, which is better than not generating foreign exchange while spending it at the same time.
Training and product improvements are other options, which we can undertake during this challenging period. An investment in our people and our tourism product in preparation for the winter season is a worthwhile investment.
While we undergo the current challenges, we cannot afford to gamble with the future of the industry by having poor service or a tired product when the business returns. These are challenging times and we are all in this together.
* Tourism is our business, let us play our part.