Millennials are being targeted in “a very big way” as the nation’s tourism promoter banks on the 22-37-year-olds’ lust for experiences to boost visitor numbers.
Director of US operations for the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Petra Roach, announced that in keeping with industry trends, Barbados will not only be focused on ‘legacy’ or return visitors but also millennials who are seeking an “experiential travel experience”, as the BTMI sought to showcase that “a lot more than sun sand and sea”.
“[Millennials] have money to spend [and] they also are the future. We have an aging demographic traditionally in Barbados and we are making sure that in 2020 we are not going to be looking around and saying ‘where are our visitors?’” Roach said.
The BTMI has been participating in millennial travel forums, talking to adventure tour operators and focussing more on the US market, she said.
There is also renewed focus on multi-generational travel and on enhancing the experience for legacy visitors, she added.
“Hoteliers are becoming much more aware that that is a market that is becoming very profitable and they are adapting their product to make sure we keep in line with where that trend is going.
“We are not just looking for a customer who comes in one time and then they never come back again we are looking at building a legacy visitor so therefore we are focused on all the niches that Barbados has.
“When you talk to people on an emotional level you are talking about the heritage, the culture [and] the historical affinity.”
Roach stressed that the island’s tourism product was fuelled by service and a multifaceted culture.
“Tourism is the driving force behind the economic viability of Barbados and we need to make sure that we do it in a responsible way and that we build an industry that will be lasting for generations to come,” she said.
But the BTMI’s director of US operations was adamant that the new, hefty tourism levies would not deter visitors once the experience beat their expectations.
“In every country, there is going to be taxation and I think that rather than sitting down thinking about what the barriers are and the challenges, we have got to sit up and take responsibility for our future from a very proactive perspective.
“Okay, we have taxes, so then make sure that the product that we have is exceptional and when they come here the service that they get is going to be exceptional.
She continued: “Don’t think about what the overall cost of the holiday is going to think of how exceptional we can make that holiday.
“If you go to Florida there is a tax for golf, there is a resort tax, taxes are everywhere because that is how people make money.”