The decision by Government to replace the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) with two entities has been called into question by a former Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch.
Lynch said while he fully supports the establishment of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) as an entity responsible for all destination marketing, the timing of its creation was all wrong, given the financial challenges facing the country.
“The more participation that you get from the private sector in tourism marketing [the better it is for the destination overall. So I have no challenge with the concept that they have put forward in terms of the BTMI,” he said.
“Was [it] a good decision at this time given the challenges that we’re facing in the industry? I’m not so sure that, at this time, I would have taken that step to divide the two agencies into a product authority and a marketing company in this unstable period. You don’t have a lot of resources and you’re diluting the resources in my opinion. You’ve got to find two boards, two chairmen, members of staff for each entity. I’m not sure I would have taken this step at this time.”
The BTMI began operating in August, ahead of the launch of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), the agency charged with developing and improving the island’s current and future tourism offerings.
“I’m not at all opposed to that,” Lynch said of the BTMI.
“Any effort that combines both the public and private sector in the marketing effort more effectively than we did under the concept of an authority, in other words creating an incorporated entity, is a step in the right direction but I don’t know why you’ll want to do it at this time.”
At the same time, the former tourism minister raised concerns about the exact role of the BTPA given that the functions were already being carried out in the Ministry of Tourism.
“What happened to the Ministry of Tourism and entities, for example, like the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI)? I don’t quite get the concept of the product entity because those roles are already, in my opinion, very well placed or used to be within the Ministry of Tourism, because you’ve got your chief tourism officer, you’ve got a tourism development department there, and then you’ve got BTI. So really and truly I’d like to find out exactly what the product entity would do as opposed to what the Ministry did in the past and what the BTI is doing,” Lynch said.