June 2013 has been another tough June in tourism. For as far back as I can remember the months of June and September have been very difficult months to overcome. They are many factors to contribute to these months being as difficult as they have been, but I still believe that as a destination we must find a way.
For the family market, these two months have been particularly difficult because of the school situation. Families seeking to travel with their children are always faced with two challenges. June is too early to travel as children are taking exams of one kind or another; and September comes at the beginning of the school year.
In recent times, September has become even more difficult due to changes in regulations that govern parents’ abilities to take their children out of school.
In our early years as a tourism destination, we were affected purely by being in the hurricane belt and announcing of the start of the hurricane season seemed to spark negatives as it related to travelling to the Caribbean. In recent years, we seem to have overcome the negatives associated with hurricane season perhaps because we seem to be less affected than the US in this regard. I also think that we have been extremely fortunate in this regard.
So, having looked at some of the reasons why we have struggled to fill the void in these two troublesome months the question can be asked: What are the alternatives?
First of all, I believe that it is possible to overcome this challenge. I believe, however, that we may have to adopt an emotional approach to it. A festival in June that does not impact of efforts for Crop-Over may be a welcomed idea. I believe that we have enough creative thinkers outside of the mainstream tourism partners that can brainstorm and come up with an idea that can be packaged and marketed.
The second idea that comes to my mind is again an emotional one. I do not believe that we have enough support from our overseas Family and Friends for our school alumni here in Barbados. As Barbadians, we are quite often and quick to tell persons which secondary school we attended; and at times, we are prepared to have that age old argument as to which school is the best and produced the who’s who.
I wonder how much we give back to the places of education that have played a significant role is our personal development as people. I feel that we could start a celebration here in Barbados that seeks to target our overseas Families and Friends to return to celebrate the schools that we love to brag about.
Last year both the Coleridge and Parry and St. Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary schools celebrated 60 years of existence and I am still of the opinion that those celebrations should have been used in a significant way to celebrate those organisations and boost arrivals from our overseas colleagues.
* Tourism is our business, let us play our part.