The three-year partnership with the Top Gear television programme and event will not only enhance Barbados’ tourism product, but it will encourage domestic and foreign investment into the island.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Christopher Sinckler made the observation during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service at the recently concluded Top Gear Barbados Festival held over the weekend at the Bushy Park Circuit in St Philip.
Sinckler noted that motor racing was one of the biggest spectator sports globally and that it had an even greater following on television.
“Top Gear is one of the most watched shows in the world, so this is marketing . . . marketing that the Barbados Tourism Authority could not simply pay for because we don’t have the resources,” he said.
“Could you imagine when this goes on BBC, ESPN and the motor racing channels [what the response will be?] . . . What I feel especially good about, is that it is going to go into markets that we need to be in, in a big way,” he added.
Such markets include the United States, and fortunately for Barbados, although Top Gear is a British television programme, it is immensely popular in America, he added.
The minister reasoned: “Barbados is a brand in the British market, but we are having challenges in the US market, and, of course, we are exploring Latin America. So to get this type of coverage going out there, it gives us a headstart on the work that the BTA is already doing to refashion and remodel to ensure that we get our airlift up . . . .”
He said the island needed “speciality events” to help fill the gap and boost tourist arrivals during the “bottom end of the winter season through to the summer”. He also emphasized these events would differentiate and diversify Barbados’ tourism product and ultimately bring in greater levels of foreign exchange.
Sinckler further asserted that the hosting of Top Gear showed why it was necessary to dissolve the BTA and create two entities –– one for marketing and the other for product development.
“I think people are now beginning to understand exactly what we were talking about and why it was necessary to split [the BTA] into two specialized institutions that can focus on the issues. Product is one of the things that we are going to be driving . . . .
“We don’t do mass-based tourism . . . . We want the quality, and this is what gets you the quality; and once our quality is high and our service is excellent, we can compete with anywhere in the world, based on the price that we are charging,” he stressed.
The Minister of Finance said that Top Gear had attracted many wealthy persons to the island who were interested in purchasing second homes and doing business investments.
“So, it is also building that network of investor friends that would be great for Barbados. So doing this was a no-brainer for us,” he affirmed, adding: “When you think of this entire thing, the presence of Sandals, the concessions that we have extended to the industry and the other things that are happening, we are quietly excited about the prospects for Barbados going forward.”