Forget the Ministry of Tourism and Barbados Tourism Authority.
With concerns remaining about the performance of the island’s main economic engine, an international travel public relations and representative network’s based in Europe is claiming responsibility for almost a quarter of the tourists who have visited Barbados within the last two years.
Pangaea Network, the grouping which was contracted to help push Barbados’ tourism sector in five European markets in 2010, made the assertion in a new European Marketing Coordination for Barbados “case study”.
“In our first year we generated (public relations) coverage in excess of ‚21,000,000 advertising value. We secured extra airlift with a charter with Tui from the Nordics to Barbados and further flights with Condor from Germany and increased routes from France.
The last two years we have delivered growth in visitor arrivals of 24 per cent,” Pangaea said.
The company said Barbados had failed to do better in Europe up to 2010 because that market “had not been fully exploited and needed a coordinated marketing effort to realise its full potential”.
It noted the solution was the decision to “work with our five Pangaea partners in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands and put together a comprehensive plan of sales and marketing and PR activity within each market to give Barbados visibility and drive numbers”.
“An important part of this was to work on Pan European PR and marketing initiatives. To achieve the objectives we focused on highlighting the attractiveness of Barbados as a destination,” it stated.
“This was achieved through familiarisation trips with leading dailies, travel and lifestyle media, launching a new European Barbados website, Press releases with key figures, news regarding activities on Barbados etcetera, meetings and networking with travel agencies and major charter operators, social media campaigns, media cooperation and (television) coverage including group press trips and agent (familiarisation) trips across the network,” Pangaea added.
While the organisation did not go into detail with statistics to back up its boast, Barbados’ tourism numbers from Europe up to the end of April did reflect an improved performance.
There was a 27.7 per cent increase in visitors from Germany, and a 10.8 per cent hike from the rest of Europe, although the main United Kingdom market decline by 2.5 per cent.
Between January and April last year Barbados welcomed 3,495 visitors from Germany, compared to 4,463 in the same four months this year.
In the case of the rest of Europe the January to April figures increased from 12, 291 last year to 13,622 this year.
The overall arrivals performance, however, was generally on the negative side with 16,122 (seven per cent) less tourists vacationing in Barbados.
Declining markets included the United States (11.8 per cent), Canada (9.9 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (25 per cent), and the rest of CARICOM (14.9 per cent). (SC)