Gap taxis feeling pinch
Business in the Gap, Christ Church is slow but steady unless you are a taxi driver.
If you are, then there will be days when you sit in your car and wait for a fare which never comes.
“Things start to get tight since the recession start, some days I don’t get a job; people either walk past or want to bargain,” said Ashley Atkins, a taxi driver for 11 years. “I guess the same way we feeling the recession, the tourists may be feeling it even worse.”
He said this was why he was making sure to put something aside whenever he got a little money. Despite this, he said he did not think Barbados was doing too badly as a whole.
The tale was the same with another taxi driver, who requested anonymity. He was dozing in his car when the WEEKEND NATION first came across him but woke up subsequently and had this to say.
“I have been here all day since 9 a.m. (it was around 3 p.m.) and ain’t get a job yet,” the driver of 15 years said. “There are tourists here but they mostly take buses and are not spending money. If the money is not coming, I will have to find something else to do.”
Nearby, Janelle Foster said she had noticed tourists were renting cars rather than taking taxis. A tour guide promoting various companies and attractions, she said she operated from St Lawrence Gap a few times a week.
“We started in December and things had picked up at first but now slowed down,”?Foster added. “I find tourists are catching buses or renting cars rather than booking tours. Some say things are too expensive while others say they have already seen and done everything.”
While both the taxi drivers and tour guide said the rental car business appeared to be reaping most of the profits, a check with Express Rent-a-Car revealed they too were suffering a slowdown.
Owner David Degg reported a 20 per cent reduction in sales when compared with the same period last year although he said things were good in December.
Food is considered something that will always sell as people have to eat but even food establishments are saying things are slow. Matthew Gibbs, the manager of Scottie’s (Dover) said they were “hanging in there”.
“There has been a steady decline but once you offer a good product at a reasonable price, people will come and we have been doing that,” he said.
As for craft vendors, Henderson “Tony” Brathwaite was relaxing under an umbrella eating fruit. He is a small businessman feeling the heat, as it were.
“I am not getting sales like one time but I am still getting things in between,” he said. “I have been selling [in the Gap] for 20 years now and I am seeing a lot of new faces but people are not letting off [spending money] like before. Things hard all over, I am thankful for what little I get.”
One place apparently doing well is hotel Ocean Two. A couple of pool attendants, Earrie Samuel and Andre Stapleton, said they were booked solid and were hearing nothing but good things.
“It’s all about good service,” Samuel said. “Good service keeps them coming and we keep in contact with them via email and Facebook.”
But what of the visitors themselves? What do they think of Barbados, its prices and the people? The WEEKEND NATION asked a few of them.
“We like the freedom of renting a car but to rent a car here is more expensive than other places. Still, it is the best way for us to get around the island,” said Englishman Harry Dyke who is on his ninth trip with his wife Joan.
Brian Cutler, a Toronto resident, was walking with his children. He said it was his second visit to the island and he loved the people and climate but was not too fond of the traffic. He said while prices were high here, it was a normal thing and they were high everywhere so he had no problem recommending Barbados to others.