Attracting more tourists to the annual Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX) is likely to be the next focus for organizers.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY yesterday morning on the first day of the 2015 edition of the event which attracts over 100 exhibitions, BMEX’s marketing manager Antoine Williams said though thousands of Barbadians visited the event, it was important to get more tourists coming, as organizers continuously sought to expand into international markets.
He explained that this move would entail having an aggressive marketing programme and working closely with hotels and agencies that market the island’s tourism product.
“The sun, sea, sand component is out of the window now. We have to broaden the scope. This is perhaps a good avenue because you don’t know who comes to Barbados on holiday, yes, but might have an interest in manufacturing.
“We need to strengthen our relationships and make sure that visitors to the island come and see what is happening,” he said.
BMEX provides opportunities for local manufacturers to display and promote their products while increasing business and consumer awareness on a global scale.
And today, hundreds of schoolchildren were the first to taste the start of the four-day exhibition that was officially opened this evening, being exposed to what was on offer this year –– especially the new or enhanced products being launched.
Williams said that with the much national talk about the need to get young people involved in manufacturing, he was happy to note that once again, students, particularly those from the Barbados Community College and Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, would be showcasing their portfolios over the weekend.
“And then, of course, we have the general designers who will be showcasing their styles, whether it be swimwear, business wear, bridal wear –– so the fashion is going to be a major hit, as it always is.”
One of the highlights of the exhibition this year is a 30-member contingent from Guyana showcasing a selection of wood, leathercraft, food and beverage products indigenous to the South American country.
The marketing manager explained that the group, here compliments of the Guyana Office Of Investment, was focused on creating linkages, seeking export opportunities and also making investments.
Williams said the group’s presence in Barbados also showed that as a Bajan brand, BMEX had to be seen as a regional and international exercise because that was the way to go.
“It also gives credit to the fact that while the exhibition focuses on local manufacturing, it spans agriculture, it spans services, it spans tourism and of course it involves the regional component –– and that’s where the exhibition is going,” he added.
The schoolchildren, mostly from Government and private schools, were excited with the displays they saw, particularly the food products.
Most of them happily sampled Bajan sweets and treats, including sugar cakes, nut cakes, patties and ice cream –– to name a few.
Barbados TODAY spotted a group of students marvelling at the straw products at one of the Guyanese booths. There was a large-sized rocking chair in which they took turns sitting –– and rocking.
When asked if they had enjoyed their time at BMEX, most of the students had favourable responses.
“I like BMEX because we could see how to make items. I saw baskets, rocking chairs and other local products,” Saga Farrell said.
Farrell’s classmate Corey Allain declared: “I had fun. I got something to eat and saw local products.”
Myah Barnwell learned that paper was not only for writing on, but could also be used for making earrings. Barnwell said she was also going home with a better knowledge of why plants were important.
Meanwhile, craftsman and small entrepreneur Juliette Amos said last year was the first time she had brought her crochet products to the exhibition, and that the response was “so good”, she had to do it twice.
“People came and they liked my products, and they bought; and then I got calls after. I would tell any small businessperson to come to BMEX because it did something good for me,” Amos said.