A restructured Barbados tourism administration is set to bring more visitors to the island, place emphasis on sports, and turn the island into a 12-month destination.
Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) Chairman Adrian Elcock brought that news to the Annual General Meeting of the Intimate Hotels Group this morning in an address detailing the way forward for the industry.
“We’re building on a strategy of growing the USA market through new hotel investment, buttressing our low seasons by increasing family travel in summers, by investing in niche activities such as sports and entertainment and conferences and, most importantly, we have stabilized the spend pattern,” Elcock said.
A lynchpin of the strategy to increase the arrivals to Barbados is a switch of emphasis to the United States market.
“If we are to achieve growth in our country from tourism, actual hard numbers of arrivals, we have to get the US market kicking on all cylinders, that’s where the growth potential lies for our country,” the tourism executive said.
“We will be successful through the deliberate steps that we are taking . . . . We’ve put in place more airlift than we would ever have out of the United States . . . . We’ve recognised that we just cannot grow that market without an abrupt change in strategy.”
He spoke of tour operator businesses dying in the US and a need to form alliances with the digital travel trade and direct-to-consumer marketing – a move which includes placing marketing officers in key US cities.
“We launched Delta on December 4th out of Atlanta and out of the New York City area . . . we have just gotten Jet Blue to [begin] an additional service into the winter period, starting in January where we will have two flights a day coming in on Jet Blue for five days a week,” Elcock reported.
“We would have more seats into Barbados from the United States than we’ve had in a very long time . . . It is up to you as our hotel partners to work with us to help us fill those seats,” he told the hoteliers.
Elcock said more emphasis would be placed on the Northern United Kingdom.
“By focusing in this manner it would allow us to create further demand for airlift from Manchester and this would prove strategic to our continental European expansion,” he said.
“We’ve added a third flight out of Germany with Condor. We will begin an aggressive push into France as well, so we can build that market in the next three years.”
That, he said, involved getting Barbados to feed off of 14 flights per week into the Caribbean from France, as he revealed that there has already been significant growth in French tourist arrivals from Guadeloupe
Elcock also disclosed that the number of tourists coming out of Canada had almost doubled since West Jet began flying here in 2009 and there was a proposal that would see significant increase in arrivals and airlift over the next few months from both Air Canada and West Jet.
Remolding the island’s image to become a premium year-round attraction is another key component of the strategy.
Elcock spoke about a packed programme of sports events and international conferences to keep the Barbados hospitality industry busy.