Pending approval by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and Barbados Tourism Authority boards, there is a major incentive in the works that is intended to actually drive more spending to local hotels, attractions and related tourism businesses.
The initiative, explained Executive Vice President, Sue Springer, at the association’s first quarterly meeting today, will see visitors who book a special Barbados Island Inclusive National Package being able to redeem cash coupons with tourism businesses.
Springer said the challenging issues with marketing Barbados had led the BHTA to play a greater role in this regard, stating: “So we have concentrated a lot more on marketing and this has really taken up a great deal of our time. We are working on a collaboration at the moment with the BTA to launch a national package. It is going to be called Barbados Island Inclusive and it is going to be launched in all our source markets.
“It is a value-added offer which can be attached to any deals you have out there. I know you have been asked to indicate whether you are interested in being a part of [this]. All we want to know is that you are and we can distribute the coupon books.”
The coupon book, she said, would contain about $600 worth of coupons redeemable at participating businesses and the deal is proposed to run from April 15 to December 21.
“Each person will be given a package and will receive cash coupon booklets that will contain … cash coupons up to BDS$600. This still has to be ratified by the board but this is what is proposed and it will be redeemed at participating attractions, activities and restaurants on the island.
“So this means that the money is going to be spent on island with you all to hopefully drive some business. Packages will be sold through tour operators, travel agents and of course our own booking engine, bookbarbadosnow.com.”
This deal to drive money into the attractions comes even as Springer earlier noted that attractions were reporting declining revenues of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent for the first quarter of the year, despite a 33 per cent increase in the German market, a 14.7 per cent increase in the Brazilian market.
Meanwhile, President Patricia Affonso-Dass called for the urgent ratification of the Barbados Island Inclusive package, noting: “It is critical that this programme be finalised and the requisite funding for the programme’s cash component and necessary marketing be agreed by Government so that it can be launched as soon as possible.”
She further stated: “Present marketing of Barbados requires greater focus and adjustment. Barbados has been missing from all media (television, print and radio) over the last 18 months and the decrease in arrivals has reflected this void…
“With an increase in budget for 2013/14, the BHTA would wish to see: A bigger split between the marketing/PR budget and administration; upgrading and expansion of the skilled personnel in the tourism areas of the public and private sector to equip them to meet the challenges of the industry; continued pooling of resources from the BHTA and the TDC with the BTA to fund marketing initiatives; creation of a three-year marketing plan; a more structured focus and a realistic budget and relevant manpower for cruise to ensure that we optimise the value from this important sector.
“A clear marketing and development plan for this sector is critical as it impacts significantly on the sustainability of the attractions and business sectors e.g. taxi drivers, duty free shops, restaurants, attractions … [and] utilisation of Rihanna and her image in a more sustainable manner.” (LB)