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TOURISM MATTERS: As Thomas Cook exits


TOURISM MATTERS: As Thomas Cook exits

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Sadly, it would appear we are losing the summer weekly Thomas Cook (TC) Manchester flight from early May 2015.

Perhaps there is sufficient surplus capacity on the Virgin Atlantic Monday flights, but TC provided a lower cost option for many and while we are lacking in empirical evidence, my guess is that this flight was used by many people who have a second home is Barbados and/or who stay in our lower priced accommodation options.

While Virgin currently retains their larger once-a-week B747 on the Manchester service during the low season, it may not prove a challenge at all.

But if they decide to change equipment to the smaller A330 as they did from Gatwick, clearly less capacity and more demand will lead to the inevitable higher air fares and deter the more budget-conscious holidaymaker, who largely keeps the industry afloat during the eight long summer months.

For travel in April 2015, a return flight from Manchester with Thomas Cook is presently available at £376 (BDS$1 216). With Virgin the cost is £638 (BDS$2 063) over a similar period. In fairness luggage and meals are ‘extras’ with TC, but there is still a huge price differential, particularly if a family of four are considering travelling.

What is also a little puzzling was our tourism policymakers had already indicated that there was going to be a special effort in growing the markets out of the north of England and Scotland.

And especially after the July long Barbados Summerfastic tour by a beautiful liveried bus in partnership with Capital FM which visited several northern cities and Scotland.

I totally agree there is tremendous further potential, but you also have to look at the demographics, which should take into account average disposal income and affordable access to the airport serving the destination.

Unemployment is at its highest in England’s north east and north west, with average weekly earnings considerably lower than the south of the country. Clearly the cost is often the ultimate deciding factor.

I make no apologies in returning to a pet-peeve subject, websites which are not kept current.

Being in possession of reliable data is absolutely critical to intelligent decision making in the tourism industry. What is the point of maintaining expensive public sector departments, if they are unable to deliver the function they are mandated to effectuate?

All too often we are forced to accept a level of service in Government that simply would not be tolerated in the private sector without severe financial implications. It took the Barbados Statistical Service a staggering 61 days to post the May 2014 tourism arrival figures.

At the time of submitting this column, no tourism stay-over numbers have been posted yet for June, July, August or September.

I was recently rebuked by a senior civil servant who argued that he could not, in his words, micromanage everything. A fair comment perhaps, but who takes the ultimate responsibility to ensure that well paid employees actualise the function they are being compensated for?

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