Tourism officials in Bridgetown have been ramping up efforts to woo more visitors from the United States.
In fact, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins said the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
(BTMI) has started “an aggressive push” in association with other tourism partners, to entice more Americans to visit the island, through a more targeted approach while putting strong emphasis on increasing airlift out of key areas including the entire eastern seaboard.
Additionally, Cummins said a more targeted approach will be used to get travellers from different market segments while emphasis is placed on getting airlift out of key areas of the US including the entire eastern seaboard. “Credit card debt during the times when people were not travelling is at an all-time low and savings are at an all-time high. It means spend is there for tourism markets like Barbados and we are going after that US market,” declared Cummins.
“We have a significant diaspora and their descendants who want to be able to come to Barbados. We have business travellers that want to be able to do business in Barbados based on the companies that are based here.
We also have an African-American population that wants to also come to Barbados.
“So you will see an investment in those three segments among others – the regular leisure travellers and so on – but by further segmenting the market you are finding that there are significant opportunities unfolding for Barbados. And it is on that basis that we will be working to ensure that we have specific dedicated roundtables with our local tourism sector partners,” Cummins explained.
She said: “in the US market we will have these dedicated roundtables to have aggressive push into the segments of the market that I spoke about. So the best of Barbados will be on sale and on show. You have a lot of branding and marketing already underway.”
The BTMI has started its branding and marketing campaign – Sweet Summer Savings, which also targets locals and is being done in collaboration with several local partners. It is aimed at enticing more people to come to the island and take part in activities by showcasing specials being offered at attractions, restaurants and hotels for the period June 25 to October 31, 2021.
Of the five main traditional source markets, the US is so far the top performer when it comes to arrivals for Barbados in the month of July, with a 49.8 per cent market share.
Tourism officials say this was driven largely by a range of factors including the fact that the US was one of the only developed economies that did not close its borders at any point since the onset of the pandemic, it had an early mover-advantage with an aggressive vaccination campaign, and it did not introduce quarantine requirements for returning travellers.
Cummins also told a recent state of the industry update breakfast meeting that an audit would be carried out on the attractions on island and recommendations would be put forward.
“We have a report that has come in already to the ministry, which I am preparing to take to Cabinet, which gives us a full sense of what product we had before pandemic, what was affected by the pandemic – whether temporarily closed or some closed for good – and what the price point is [and] what the age is,” she said.
She also announced that the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, will take some teachers and students on tours of some of the island’s attractions in coming months as they continue efforts to get more Barbadians familiarised with the island’s product offerings.
“So five specific tours have been created and a Cabinet paper is being finalised to go to Cabinet for financing of that and we expect that by the time we are past this period of restrictions that we can get that programme going,” said Cummins.