Eyes on sports tourism
Intimate Hotels of Barbados is trying to create its own tourism niche — from sports.
Chairman Renee Coppin said after a tour by a Barbados Labour Party team led by Opposition Leader Mia Mottley of a number of small properties, including within the Intimates group, that they were looking ahead at low occupancies with booking windows that were increasingly reduced or shortened.
“[I]t means that we cannot predict what we are going to be at September, October; already those occupancies are not looking very promising. So this initiative and others we are hoping from all interested people who are trying to move Barbados forward is very much welcomed.
“We have a number of initiatives we are trying to implement on our own, but obviously we are limited by the fact that there is not a lot of funding available for marketing initiatives and so as a small hotels sector, that is putting increasing pressure because generally our secretariat acts on behalf of the membership to try to put in place initiative that they, because of their size, cannot put in place themselves,” said Coppin.
What the grouping was trying to do was create a niche, she explained, and sports tourism was their best bet.
“I’ve been discussing at length the fact that I feel that Government, any Government, needs to put in place enabling infrastructure to allow us to be successful and one of the things I am not seeing coming forward and I feel is necessary is what are we going to be doing in the next three to five years? What are those big ideas that are going to drive the business to our market?
“We can no longer be sea, sun and sand. We have to figure out what are the niches we are going to do after. What are those big projects that we are going to be pursuing that are going to help to bring business to Barbados.”
She further explained: “One of the things we have been pursuing as a secretariat is whole idea of sports tourism. We have the natural climate; we have the natural everything here which supports that type of initiative.
“So we have been looking at ways that we can create our own events. We have been looking at partnerships with organisations like UWI which has and is developing a first class sporting facility to try and drive sports business because it is integral to our sector, the small hotels.”
At the end of the day, she said, “Those are the things we are looking for – our leadership, whether it be this Government, the next Government to try to put in place to support us because at the end of the day, we all want to refurbish, we all want to do those things, but if we don’t have the business coming to our shores and we don’t have a vision as to how we are going to get that business in the long term, we can’t continue to do incremental programmes every year, putting a plaster over a sore.
“We have to look at what is our vision for the long term? Where do we want our business to come from, where do we want our market to be and we have to put the things in place to make sure that happens.” (LB)