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BTMI banks on ‘fam tour’ to bring more Brits

by Emmanuel Joseph
4 min read
Jacqui McDermott

Barbados could soon be welcoming hundreds more visitors from the United Kingdom onboard British Airways, if a Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc-sponsored familiarisation tour for travel agents pays off.

The BTMI has brought 28 agents from across the UK to the island as part of the airline’s 65th Anniversary Megafam Trip.

The group, which arrived here yesterday for a five-day stay at host hotel, Sea Breeze Beach House in Maxwell, Christ Church, are to experience for themselves the destination and
its offerings so they could sell the island to British holiday seekers.

Sharon McConway, who works for major UK tour operator Kuoni Travel, told Barbados TODAY during a welcome dinner and gala at Sea Breeze last night that Britons are looking to spend quality memorable and relaxing times with their loved ones away from home.

“First and foremost, they have worked hard and want to spend quality time with their families or their friends or honeymoon. So it’s a special occasion for them. So they want to feel relaxed, feel special…I don’t want to say pampered, but have an extra-special trip.” 

Now on her first trip back to Barbados in ten years, she said her clients would also want to experience the hospitality that makes this country different from the rest along with its culture and music.

She added: “Most people would keep coming and coming.” 

“People want to come to the island and celebrate a landmark birthday. So instead of one family, you find multi-generations.

“It might be grandparents taking their grandchildren and those families keep coming back…children grow up and they would take their children. It becomes a special place to make memories.”

She noted that people come into her company and know exactly where they want to stay, but others come and need inspiration.   

“And here is with our knowledge, we [can] direct them to Barbados…and also to what type of hotel to stay at and what type of experience they are going to have,” McConway declared.

She said the last time she was here, she fell in love with the people, culture and cuisine and discovered what made Barbados so different to the other islands.

So this time around, the travel agent is seeking to learn what has changed.

McConway told Barbados TODAY: “It has a lot to offer different types of clients. I have to learn more and see certain landmarks and combine that with the hotels experience and share the passion with the UK market.” 

The Sales and Marketing Manager for the Oceans Hotels Group, Jacqui McDermott, who was on hand to welcome the visitors to Sea Breeze, said the hotel will play its part in ensuring the agents have a memorable experience so they could better promote the island on return to the UK.

McDermott said: “We are treating them to a gala night…and that is our idea to have New Year’s Eve every day at Sea Breeze. Why do we limit it just to one day? So we do it once a month in the summer…and every week in the winter we have a special gala night where we have a fabulous buffet.”

The BTMI London office’s Senior Business Development Officer Marc McCollin said the team of agents will take in a range of activities while here including trips to St Nicholas Abbey Heritage Train, Atlantis Submarine, Mount Gay Distilleries and various hotel properties.

“It is a bit of taste of everything, said McCollin. “All the things that they need to help sell the destination better. Most of them are persons who are top sellers. 

“We work very closely with British Airways in terms of their key players…persons who have been selling Barbados this year and over the last few years.

“And funny enough, a lot of them who been selling Barbados over the years, have never been [here].” 

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