The Boatswain’s Beach tourist attraction is losing about $500,000 every month.
Cheques issued to members of staff and suppliers recently bounced when presented to local banks. Boatswain’s Beach Acting CEO Joey Ebanks said he was off island on official business at the time and immediately rectified the situation on his return.
Despite the financial woes of the tourist attraction, which opened in late 2006, Mr. Ebanks said the situation was getting better.
‘We are seeing improvements,’ he said, noting the tourist attraction had earlier been operating at a loss of more than $1 million per month. ‘There have been tremendous cost cutting measures.’
The old Turtle Farm used to be a profit-making facility and employed just 35 people. With the opening of Boatswain’s Beach, operating expenses and the number of people on the payroll skyrocketed. However Mr. Ebanks explained the operation already trimmed back the staff numbers somewhat.
‘We have gone form 117 employees to 109, so we are using staff members to do more and we are accomplishing more with less,’ he said. ‘This is helping to drive the expenses down.’
Mr. Ebanks said the remaining employees are dedicated and committed to making the attraction a success and the management team and the board of directors are now putting together a strategy to improve the financial performance of the facility.
‘We made mistakes with the pricing and we are getting that corrected,’ Mr. Ebanks said.
In addition to putting in place a realistic pricing structure, Mr. Ebanks said the business was working on strategies to dramatically increase the number of visitors to the attraction and the retail sales. There are also plans to improve the entertainment and product offering.
‘We are going to take our current 20 per cent market share and we are going to double it in the next 18 months,’ he said.
‘We are going to do that with some direct marketing to the cruise ships; we are going to do that with some marketing at the port of entry; and we are going to do that by leveraging some strategic partnerships throughout the industry.’
The Department of Tourism – which has more global reach and established marketing networks – has agreed to assist over the coming months, Mr. Ebanks said. With the DoT’s help, Mr. Ebanks said the target of doubling Boatswain’s Beach is realistic, given the upbeat six-month forecast for visitor arrivals.