Barbados’ biggest foreign exchange earner could be in for a major boost, with the island expected to welcome a record number of United States visitors in the coming year.
According to Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) director for the United States, Petra Roach, there has been an increase in the number of tourists from that market over the past few years and this year will be no exception.
“Business from the US has grown from 118,000 in 2014 to 169,000 in 2016. So far for this year, US visitor numbers are already up by 20 per cent over the same period last year, with 2017 projected to exceed 1987, which had the highest visitation to Barbados from the USA ever,” she said.
Roach was speaking on the sidelines of an initiative in which the 200-room Sandals Royal Barbados and the island are being promoted by 20 American radio stations which are broadcasting live from the resort to an estimated 10.4 million listeners.
Roach said the live broadcasts constitute a new method of selling Barbados and getting more tourists interested in coming to the island, as some lucky listeners will win trips to the island and stays at the Sandals resort.
“This is a massive initiative and a brilliant opportunity to showcase Barbados to the US in a way that is unique and, quite frankly, hard to ignore,” she said. “We are always working to stimulate demand for the destination and the statistics show that Barbados is becoming increasingly more appealing to Americans.”
Coordinator of the trip, Julie Watson of JAWW Media and Marketing added: “We really try to focus on markets that have good airlift, so when these broadcasters go home they are going to talk about this for two whole weeks, [and] they are going to give away trips to listeners to come back here.”
Radio announcer from Nash 94.7 FM in New York City, Katie Neal, told Barbados TODAY she has been getting tremendous feedback from her listeners back home.
“Everyone has been really excited. People have been asking me if it’s a great place to come for a honeymoon and I said ‘of course’. We have met some listeners who are here on vacation and they told us that they love Barbados and want to come back so the feedback is awesome,” she said.
“All week we have been talking about things people can do in Barbados and what makes the island so great, so I definitely think that it will help out Barbados because we have basically been educating our listeners so they would want to come to Barbados.”
Another announcer, Jimi Roberts of Today’s 101.9 which is based in Baltimore, said he believes the various live broadcasts will improve the country’s popularity.
“We are going to give a lot of positive exposure to Barbados…because we are on the radio talking about the island. The feedback has been amazing; people are really into these trips and excited to come to Barbados,” he said.