Barbados recorded over 10,000 air passenger arrivals after months of being hard-hit by a global pandemic. For the first time since December 2020, the local tourism industry has recorded a major tourism milestone with the latest statistics from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) suggesting a positive turn for the industry ahead of the 2021/2022 winter season.
During the period July 2021, some 10,819 visitors travelled to Barbados. This total represented a significant increase of 6,745 visitors when compared to the corresponding period of July 2020.
The United States (US) came out on top as they copped a 43.3 per cent market share, while the United Kingdom (UK) contributed 34.4 per cent of business with 3,722 arrivals for the reporting period. This occurred after Barbados was added to the UK COVID-19 Green watchlist. Barbados has been fortunate to be placed on this list for the second time since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.
For the same period, Caribbean arrival figures stood at 1,391 and 390 arrivals from Canada. This represented an increase in arrivals from both markets year on year.
Interim CEO of BTMI, Craig Hinds, described the achievement as a step in the right direction after the tireless efforts, on and off scene, to re-build the tourism product.
He stated that “Barbados has, and continues to weather this COVID-19 storm, but while this period has been difficult for the industry, the BTMI is so pleased to see the recent sprouts of positive growth. This growth is a direct result of the excellent sales and marketing efforts in our overseas markets through campaigns like our “Sweet Summer Savings” promotion, as well as maintaining strong partnerships with our airline, cruise and tourism partners.”
Promotional Activities in Market
BTMI continues to tow a line of strong representation in the United States market, sponsoring this year’s “Citi Open” which was held in Washington, D.C. This resulted in Italian teenager and competition winner, Jannik Sinner, winning a five-day/four-night vacation to Barbados.
Taking place from July 31 – August 8, 2021, “Citi Open” was the fifth biggest event in US professional tennis, and featured some of the best tennis players. Known to align with world-class partners, the event also attracts VIPs and celebrities, along with over 5,600 hours of global broadcast in 177 markets.
Not far away in New York City, all eyes were on Barbados for “Fox and Friends with Chef Javon Cummins” as the flavours of Barbados filled the Fox Square. Chef Javon Cummins, joined the hosts of Fox and Friends for their wedding taste testing segment. This time through culinary, activities like this, which displays all that Barbados has to offer, have proven why visitors continue to choose Barbados as their destination of choice.
Barbados was also on show in Greenwich, Connecticut, where the “2021 Greenwich Polo Season” provided a major boost for the island’s tourism product. The interim CEO of BTMI said that “it was the perfect partnership for Barbados as Greenwich, Connecticut is ideally located within close proximity to New York. It is easily accessible to residents who utilizes JFK as the preferred airport of choice for both commercial and private jet travel. This partnership provided us with an opportunity to engage and reposition Barbados as a viable post-COVID option for affluent travellers with above average disposable income as we defend existing airlift from JFK, while trying to create the environment for incremental capacity as circumstances permit.”
Patrons were also treated to the culinary delights of Barbadian Chefs such as Chef Creig Greenidge, Chef Trevon Stoute and Chef Javon Cummins.
Promotional Activities in Barbados
In July, BTMI teamed up with Sandals Resort as they brought fifteen United States radio stations from eleven cities to Barbados to give listeners a chance at winning a four-day/three-night vacation to Sandals Resort in Barbados. The radio stations broadcasted live from Sandals Royal Barbados and included tourism officials led by Sen. the Hon. Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism and International Transport. The promotion, which was also supported by American Airlines, reached over 4,000,000+ listeners.
Additionally, Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley, was the highlight of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) filming with award-winning journalist and presenter, Zeinab Badawi. Ms. Badawi and crew visited Barbados to film two episodes of Global Questions with Prime Minister Mottley and the Hon. Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy. Key topics facing the island and the region were tackled; as well as one episode of “Hard Talk” with Sir Hilary Beckles. The episodes aired this month to their entire BBC World viewership.
On the heels of “Global Questions”, British broadcaster ITV followed suit, selecting Barbados as their location to film a segment for their popular daytime talk show, “The Lorraine Show”. Presenter for the segment was award-winning author Candice Brathwaite, who came to the island to learn more about her Barbadian ancestry. Born and raised in Brixton, London, she was primarily raised by her Bajan grandparents who came to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation.
Also contributing to the increasing arrival numbers, was the “Welcome Stamp” programme. It was not surprising to see that the majority of uptake came from the destination’s primary source markets of the U.S., U.K., Canada and Ireland.
With one year of success already under its belt, the “Welcome Stamp” programme was recently renewed for another year, presenting openings for more digital nomads and other professionals to live and work from Barbados.
Hinds stated that “the programme has proven to be a successful innovation which has positioned Barbados as a leader in the world’s eyes as we adapt our tourism product to complement the changing global climate.” He added that “many global citizens have made Barbados their home; millennials, families and investors alike, and BTMI is therefore looking forward to continuing the promotion of the initiative for another year, allowing those already here to extend their stay, while giving prospective “Welcome Stampers” the chance to experience all that Barbados has to offer.”