The six-month-old Mia Mottley-led Administration has started to create a new-look Barbados Tourism Marketing Incorporated (BTMI) in partnership with the private sector to promote and brand Destination Barbados across the world.
While stating that Cabinet was yet to be presented with his proposals to rationalize the operations of the BTMI and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds said today the public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement will result in some posts being made redundant and new ones being created.
Symmonds told the annual general meeting of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) at the Accra Beach Hotel Resort that having ruled out amalgamating the two entities on legal grounds, the Ministry has so far taken the personnel from both boards and formed a single one to manage their affairs during the transition phase.
“It also makes it easier for us to then do the rationalization of the process to make assessments which we have done of the different roles played by people within the two organizations, the staffing levels required for optimum efficiency and also to recognize that quite frankly, there are some posts in the two entities which are not filled and may not need to be filled. Equally, there may be one or two posts which we may need to create in order to create the level of efficiency and effectiveness that we want to have,” said the Tourism Minister.
‘It was at this point that he declined to further discuss the personnel aspect of the new-look tourism marketing and product development entities, but chose instead to share his thoughts on the direction in which they should go.
“We have settled on the need to ring-fence product development in Barbados. I have deepened the belief as I have been Minister over the last few months, that we cannot seriously promote Barbados as a destination which is distinct and different from any others, unless we do so in a way that enables us to promote the product of Destination Barbados,” Symmonds argued.
In outlining the mission which he expects the proposed body to pursue, he suggested marketing, promoting and branding such authentic Bajan elements as Oistins, rum, beer and horse racing.
The Minister insists that the tourism stakeholders must get past the days of depending on financial support from the public purse in order to spur business operations.
“It therefore means that we have to unleash the full potential of really what is the most mature and the most experienced set of tourism practitioners and tourism operators to be found anywhere in the eastern Caribbean – and that is the community here in Barbados,” Symmonds said, adding that stakeholders must now operate out of the box by capitalizing on the non-traditional tourism-related sectors.
He is therefore recommending that tourism investors reach beyond what is typically defined as tourism such as restaurants and hotels and involve the ancillary services.
“I speak for example of entities in the beverage industry, those people who making rum, the people who make beer, the people for example in horse racing, the duty-free sector. Those are all entities that know that part and parcel of their business success, is the fact that Barbados is full of tourists at certain times of the year and that their business sees some useful peaks,” he said.
Minister Symmonds also announced that he has already reached out to private sector partners and was in the process of inviting others including the Tourism Development Corporation, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB) and the Small Business Association of Barbados (SBA) to be part of the new-look BTMI.
“We also intend to do more branding of Barbados and the Barbadian product and all of the things representative of Barbados…and I ask you just think it through. I mean, how often are we seeing genuine Barbadian branding taking place. I invite you to tell me if you for example have ever been to the Harrison’s Cave and left holding a miniature stalactite and stalagmite or been on any hike and seen anybody selling you a green monkey teddy bear? There is a lot more that we can do to brand the country,” he told the tourism stakeholders.
Symmonds said Barbados also needs to urgently improve its signage and this is one of the issues Government plans to address as part of a Bridgetown Redevelopment Project.