There was a time when we did not think that activities in overseas countries affected us, but today we know that thinking was flawed and we need to be paying much closer attention to everything that happens in the entire world.
The most recent situation is the bombing during the Boston Marathon. Boston falls into the area of the east coast of the United States from where many of our visitors come. In addition to residents of the Boston area visiting Barbados, I don’t know if we understand that Boston is also one of our connecting states for our flight out of the US. We have great connections out of Miami, but these connections don’t start there. In fact, one of our direct flights out of Miami originates in Boston.
Moments after the incident, airline systems became disrupted, which has a further impact on connecting flights and eventually caused the cancellation of several other flights, which were miles away from the Boston area.
This type of flight disturbance affected passengers at both ends. Passengers en-route to Barbados could no longer get here and passengers leaving Barbados were grounded at the same time. Naturally, the pressure over the next few days would intensify as the airlines struggle to rebook passengers in and out of the island and find suitable connections to their end destinations.
These types of disturbances often lead to a different type of customer dissatisfaction. Our North American visitors have much shorter vacation time as compared with our United Kingdom and European visitors. When holiday makers lose a day or two from their vacation which averages five to seven days, it is not difficult to understand the dissatisfaction they feel, after all, no one plans to spend their precious vacation stranded in airports.
The secondary impact on our tourism efforts comes in an emotional form. Incidences like the one that took place earlier this week affects a person’s willingness to fly. Safety and security are among two of the top needs in the hierarchy of travellers’ needs. When people believe their safety may be threatened, they tend to stay at home.
For a country like ours, incidences like this could have a devastating impact on our livelihood. Our economy is driven in part by our tourism performance and world economic situations are already having a severe impact. Situations like this bombing, following last year’s hurricane situation in New York certainly do not help.
We cannot however, throw our arms up in the air and feel powerless about these situations. Barbados must continue to maintain a diverse tourism product in order to continue to absorb these shocks from our source markets.
We must also continue to lobby for a more peaceful world and we must never fail to call on the power of our families and friends to maintain our PR message that we remain a peaceful destination.
* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.