Barbados’ popular Food & Wine and Rum Festival is to be rebranded and relaunched in the coming weeks, according to the head of the Barbados Tourism and Marketing Inc. (BTMI) William Griffith.
Griffith told Barbados TODAY at the just-concluded Caribbean Week in New York, the festival would now be known as the Food and Rum Festival, explaining that the BTMI had decided on the name change in order to further promote the local culinary industry.
“It’s nothing against wine, but we thought that food and rum was closer to the identity and the indigenousness of where we want to take the festival.
“So previously it was all about mostly overseas chefs and celebrity chefs, and bringing them in. We want this event to be a lot more indigenous coming out of the people, and we want to showcase and profile more Barbadian chefs, more Barbadian eating places, and the entire culinary aspect of it,” Griffith said.
He added that November would be designated as a special “culinary month”, during which traditional dishes such as pudding and souse would be highlighted, as well as “all of those quaint little eateries, so we don’t necessarily want to go to all the five-star establishments on the island”.
The Food & Wine and Rum festival has grown in popularity with both locals and visitors over the past several years, and the BTMI is now looking to increase attendance.
“So it’s going to be broad, and it’s going to be driven by social media as well. And the idea of doing that then . . . is going to be to bring the people . . . who blog about food, the culinary specialists, the travel agent specialists who book travel specifically for clients who want to go on these culinary journeys.
“Our emphasis is going to be trying to sell more of the destination, not only for November or even the Food and Rum Festival weekend, but for the entire year, because we think it’s a year-round thing in terms of exposing Barbados as a culinary destination in the Caribbean,” Griffith told Barbados TODAY.
With regards to the rum industry, the BTMI is also looking to use the festival as a marketing conduit for the island’s most popular brands in the major tourist markets.
“Most people equate the sugar industry with the rum industry. If you look at how the rum manufacturers, whether it’s Mount Gay or Cockspur have actually rebranded themselves, if you look at their visibility today in the north east of the United States, compared to where they were, those brands are becoming more well-known across the Caribbean and across the north east of the United States and the UK. And it’s a significant amount of overseas marketing that is going on with the local rum producers.
“And having that brand, which is a unique Barbados brand in our major markets, that helps to market the island in addition to what we’re doing. So it’s really good that we have the opportunity to co-brand,” he said.
Tourism officials will also be taking local chefs to New York, Toronto and the UK to host “rum events” in conjunction with the Food and Rum Festival.