COMMENTARY: St. Lucia surges past Barbados in the US market

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COMMENTARY: St. Lucia surges past Barbados in the US market
Adrian Loveridge, owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel
Adrian Loveridge, owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

There is sometimes so much misinformation disseminated in the media about tourism, it becomes even more important that the facts prevail.

It’s official. Our neighbour, St. Lucia, overtook us for the first four months of this year, in terms of United States long-stay visitor arrivals.

Despite having a much smaller room stock, St. Lucia welcomed 43,335 American visitors between January and the end of April, an increase of 6.6 per cent, when compared with the same period in 2012. Barbados recorded 42,516 for the identical four months, a decline of 11.9 per cent.

The trend continues with the addition of a new weekly flight nonstop United Airlines service from Newark, adding another 3,000-plus seats during the second half of 2013. So there is little doubt that St. Lucia will still be ahead in this market, by year-end. Newark Liberty Airport, offers for many, a more convenient access than JFK or La Guardia in the TriState area, one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. It is also United’s third largest hub after Houston and Chicago with the St. Lucia flight connecting with 22 US cities plus a number in Canada, increasing travel options and reducing overall journey times.

Americans have generally less paid holidays than Europeans, so it becomes even more critical to be able to reach the ultimate destination in the shortest time, if ‘we’ are serious about competing in this market. And this perhaps, partially explains why we have seen such a dramatic fall in US arrivals, having lost direct flights from Philadelphia, San Juan, Dallas/Fort Worth and Atlanta. If the journey takes too long, involves an overnight stay in one or both directions or has a protracted connection time in Miami or New York, savvy travellers switch to a more accessible vacation choice.

Another way that St. Lucia can substantially benefit is by tapping into the 52 million members of the second largest airline loyalty programme in the world, United MileagePlus. Every day United redeems 17,000 reward trips. For many years, I have been trying to persuade the policymakers to include a box on a revised landing card, to indicate if our guests used miles to reach us. To the best of my knowledge, no researched data is available to accurately gauge what percentage of our overall arrivals redeem their loyalty points on vacation travel. But from our own empirical evidence, we calculate it could be as high as 10 to 15 per cent.

The compelling reason for using miles, is that they break down the geographical cost differential, because the same number of miles are required, irrespective of the originating gateway within the Continental United States and Canada.

As a simple example. The lowest cost return flights from Chicago to St. Lucia booked online in August is US$886. MileagePlus members would apply 35,000 miles with US$85.40 payable in additional taxes.

From my own personal experience, I use miles to travel at least twice a year using points earned through my credit card with American AAdvantage. This, despite not having purchased a full price ticket with the airline for many years. By selectively using this method of bill settlement, this month I will have amassed one million miles since signing up for the loyalty programme.

This article, which appeared on Barbados Underground website, was written by Adrian Loveridge, owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Adrian Loveridge is a certified insane British expatriate residing in Bim. He runs a little ten room guest house he opens three months of the year. He is a disgruntled failure one of those mad dogs and Englishmen who become stark mad in the hot sun. This article is poppycock Barbados remains way ahead of St. Lucia in every aspect of the tourist business. St. Lucia has made strides but has a long way to go to catch BIM. Good luck piton boys.
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  2. Billy I assume you are a Barbadian because of your comments.Well think of someone giving you Bds$819 more than your neighbour wouldn't you be excited about it?or come again when you receive Bds$8019 which I doubt you would.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAH

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  3. if this is the case,many congrats to all at the tourist board,but not to be complacent because the hard work must continue,evertone has their part to play because it affects all citizens of st.lucia.

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  4. We can bring in much more if we fix the roads Highways, Byways,and Airports give Castries a fix-a-rupa, tear down them stinky CDC etc. Turn Soufriere into another Gros-Islet, Vieux-Fort need some major repair okay my bad.

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    • So true.

      Castries is a dump. I really hope the authourities see the need to modernize the city of Castries (especially the run down old CDC buildings and the side-walks.)

      Also the Ministry for infrustructure needs to replace those old beat-up run down, traffic lights. Majority of those traffic lights are in need of repairing and or replacing.

      They need to focus on the small details, because i have witness many tourist talk about it and even make suggestions.

      Wake up people.

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  5. But i must say, there is alot of work to be done to maintain this lead and actually making it impossible for any other island in the Caribbean to catch up with us.

    Kudos to our Ministry of Tourism and our Tourist Board, including all stake holders.

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  6. We are the QUIET STORM.

    Soon we will take over the Caribbean *evil laugh* heheheheheh.

    I bet the ever so loud and dumb Barbadians are raging like an inferno.

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    • No, the ever so loud and dumb Barbadians are not raging like an inferno! I dont see what major difference 819 passengers make o wise one! Come again when you have a difference of 8019 arrivals!

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      • Lmbao.
        Obviously, you can't because you are not directly involved in the hospitality industry.

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      • No, I will not call the Bajans loud and dumb like many but for sure their minister raging since he suggested that the St. Lucian tourism product is "15 years behind Barbados'".

        Well, if being 15 years behind feels like this, I definitely do not mind being behind!

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