Elcock: new approach to island’s tourism product
Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Adrian Elcock, says efforts are on to “freshen up” the county’s tourism product and project it as the destination for events-based tourism.
He said the ongoing economic crisis and the resulting declines in the country’s main source markets necessitated a more creative approach to marketing the destination.
“We employed a lot of digital marketing which was more economical for us in times when our budget was under some challenges and we did not have as much funds available to market, so we used some creativity as to how we should explore pushing our brand to newer and wider audiences using digital platforms. I think from winter 2013/2014 we are seeing the benefits of that initiative,” he said.
Elcock also mentioned ongoing work to strengthen the relationship with tour operators in Britain, which resulted in increased airlift.
“We demonstrated to them that once we put our dollars in from the digital side and we increased our cooperative marketing with some of our carriers –– Virgin Atlantic and British Airways out of Britain and some of our major tour operators –– what it did . . . it created such a demand, that we were also able to get additional airlift out of the United Kingdom, which was a good story for us. So, once we have the number of seats available, you will see the benefits of that,” he added.
Saying that the economic benefits from events-based tourism cannot be underestimated, Elcock reported that it is shaping up to be a bumper Crop Over season for tourism.
He said that marketing for the festival will target specific niche markets including culture and arts steel pan, and the “fete-crazy person” attending the last lap events.
To deal with the expected crush of visitors, the BTA chairman said there will be additional airlift with JetBlue –– which is expected to commence a red-eye service out of America –– and additional airlift on Caribbean Airlines and LIAT.
In September, the chairman said Barbados will be the venue for three major events – an international Organization of American States tourism forum; a Connect Barbados tour operators’ event; and a locally-hosted international sports conference.
In addition, the fifth anniversary of the Food Wine And Rum Festival in November will see a wider integration of communities into the event. Elcock said the BTA was collaborating with partners such as American Express Publishing to bring this world-class event to Barbados’ shores.
He also disclosed that Barbados would have an added advantage over its competitors with focus on the weddings and romance niche under the theme, Forever Begins In Barbados, which will feature some “very creative twists” on hosting weddings and engagements here.
“I had a very good meeting with an international celebrity in the realm of weddings in New York City and I think that we would have that person on board shortly to come up with a creative way on how we can further develop the romance and weddings niche,” he elaborated. (BGIS/DP)