by Kimberley Cummins
The Crop-Over Festival is indeed much more than a carnival and if marketed as such it can result in more visitors coming to the island.
In an interview with the Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, this morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre he told Barbados TODAY that it was the Barbados Government’s aim to encourage more tourists to the island through cultural activities.
“Crop-Over is a unique festival, it has potential not only for Barbadians abroad looking to come home for the summer, but it has potential for visitors who want to experience our culture, who want to experience a summer festival. They are folks like that and we are determined to get more of that business.
“I think this Government has moved further in that direction, you would hear the Minister of Culture talk about the deepened understanding that has been taking place between the NCF and the BTA in terms of marketing the festival, I think it is occurring and it can be deepened and taken further. It is fairly interesting how life operates, the Crop-Over Festival was started in the ’70s by the then Board of Tourism.
“Crop-Over was started for the expressed reason of bringing visitors here in the summer, what used to happen back then was during the winter the hotels would be full then they would shut down. Naturally it has morphed into what it is today, the NCF took over in the late ’70s managing the festival and of course it has a far more local level of participation.
“It is interesting we have reached the point now where it has become our national festival and we have to discuss now how to get tourists interested and that is precisely why we restarted the festival,” he said.
Sealy disclosed that last year July, with just about 58,000 people coming to Barbados, it was the best month for 2011. Better than any of the winter months, he added.
“We had some help, obviously, with the Rihanna concert and REDjet was operating here too, we don’t have those two elements this year but I think the marketing of the festival and taking it to another level certainly contributed and it is the only way going forward.
“When we took over in 2008 the Barbados Tourism Authority Crop-Over marketing was restricted mainly to the Diaspora communities, in New York specifically and in other capital cities with Follow Me To Crop-Over but we took it to another level by integrated the marketing of Crop-Over within the context of our mainstream marketing activities and that was partly responsible for the excellent results last year,” he stated.
The minister further said that while 2011 compared to 2010 was “significantly” better since there was a “huge increase” in July and early August he did not believe the numbers this year would be as good but could not at the time give numbers for the year so far. [email protected]