From November 6 to 8, a delegation of local tourism officials led by Donna Cadogan, permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, travelled to London for the 37th annual World Travel Market (WTM).
WTM is the leading worldwide conference for the travel industry, generating more than £2.8 billion (Bds$7.3 billion) in business contracts between attendees.
From Destination Barbados, key members of the tourism sector were in attendance, including the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc’s (BTMI) United Kingdom Director Cheryl Carter, Chairman Alvin Jemmott and its Chief Executive Officer William Billy Griffith.
Also present was head of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) Kerry Hall.
The bright yellow and blue Barbados booth proved to be a major drawing card, with its Crop Over beauties, visual displays and culinary demonstrations, including traditional Bajan sorrel prepared by Ryan Adamson, the Caribbean Bartender of the Year 2017.
The BTMI used the opportunity to not only build business relationships with the 5,000 destinations in attendance, but to also update those in attendance about Barbados’ progress so far for the year 2017, with Jemmott reporting that it has been a good one in terms of sports.
“We did have [the Golden Oldies Cricket Festival] earlier in the year and it did help to boost our numbers. Of course, we have had other sporting events – the Waterman Festival, the Barbados Cycling Festival, and we expect that the year of sports will end with a bang with more people participating in this year’s Run Barbados Marathon than ever before,” he explained.
Giving a taste of what’s to come, Griffith announced the organization’s decision to brand 2018 the Year of Culinary Experiences.
“Next year we start off in mid-January with Sugar and Rum season and that is a brand-new concept introduced by the BTPA and they are going to be showcasing all there is to do with the history, culture and demonstrations, rum tours etcetera, and we also hope to make the Food and Rum festival even bigger and better next year,” he said, adding that “we’ve got to differentiate ourselves.
“The establishing themes which we did last year and we continue into next year – the Year of Sports, the Year of Culinary Experiences – those are ways that we can theme a year, we can package it, and we create some excitement about the destination.”
While in London, Griffith also used the opportunity to update the United Kingdom media on the current state of affairs in Barbados.
The BTMI top official acknowledged that “there has been some concern in terms of the impact of the hurricanes . . . about the Brexit, the value of the pound etcetera,” adding that “we wanted to reassure everyone that Barbados is open for business, we continue to do well and we are confident for the year ahead”.