by Marlon Madden
It will take a more collaborative approach from all stakeholders and greater focus on some niche areas, if the island is to return as a destination of choice with a booming tourism industry
This assessment has come from the new Chair of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Roseanne Myers, who said it will be necessary for industry stakeholders to “look at economies of scale, and go into the market in a way that brand Barbados is seen as a single entity”.
Confident that Barbados will bounce back as “the top warm weather destination in the world”, Myers said the first approach had to be to follow t”he lead of the health experts and market the island as a safe destination.
“It does not mean we are not going to robustly input, it does not mean we are not going to raise questions. But in order for us to be perceived as a safe destination it really is not going to be about what we say but what we do,” she said.
Myers outlined the strategy while being a member of a panel of tourism, agriculture and health experts during the recent Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) quarterly “general meeting.
That online forum was held under the theme Tourism: Surviving Beyond COVID-19.
Pointing out that the spike in cases and subsequent national lockdown hampered chances of a “very aggressive marketing” of the destination, the tourism leader urged BHTA members to be prepared to “play the long game”.
“It is not about getting a few more people this month and complaining that we could have
been open. It is about are we going to be prepared when our source markets reopen to be able to say to people safely, ‘you can come to Barbados because our numbers are in control, we have an excellent vaccination programme, you can come to Barbados because 60 per cent or 80 per cent of our frontline workers are vaccinated’.
“So that is the reemerging strategy. The reemerging strategy and reentering strategy has to be led by Barbados as a safe destination to travel,” she explained.
“The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. does not have the resources to be able to go back into this market on its own. Therefore, one of the first strategies is to really and truly look at how can we together help to redefine the product that we are selling and redefine the markets to which we are targeting to segment those markets,” she added.
She said while the BTMI was keen to grow visitor numbers from existing source markets and get new markets, the tourism agency would also be vigorously targeting digital nomads, families, retirees and those vaccinated first, as well as luxury travellers.
Stating that it was not about doing things in a new way, but doing it differently, Myers said a greater focus will also be placed on marketing agriculture tourism which will allow for visits to various farms as well as culture tourism “with a high level of authenticity”.
Myers said she would also be seeking to forge a stronger tie between the tourism industry and trade, international business and investment.
In that regard, Mayers said the BTMI has already reached out to several agencies and would be reintroducing a National Tourism Marketing Committee, that will consist of tourism stakeholder representatives from the private and public sector
to help with the planning.
She indicated that with Barbados extending its reach into Africa and Asia, the BTMI will draw on those offices for support in marketing the destination.
“So the idea very much in keeping with the need for us to spend less and do more is to bring the agencies together,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ena Harvey, Barbados’ Representative at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (ICCA), threw out a challenge to tourism stakeholders to work closer with that agency as well as the Ministry of Agriculture to further strengthen linkages between the tourism and agriculture sectors.
“I am ready. We have been ready for a long time and we are keen to share our experience, information and expertise and it is free. We are here to serve and serve the Government of Barbados and all the ministries,” said Harvey.