Barbados continues to be the top performing destination for many key tour operator partners across the United Kingdom, many of whom have stated that 2022 is well positioned to be their best performing year in Barbados in terms of room nights and revenue generated.
Many operators advised that the relaxation of Barbados’ entry protocols resulted in increased interest and, an immediate surge in bookings to Barbados. Booking patterns have changed significantly with evidence of shorter windows, approximately four – six weeks. This creates an opportunity to capitalise on last minute bookings and a further opportunity to switch sell.
The Barbados delegation met with 30 UK-based travel trade partners over the three-day event, including airlines, tour operators, and representatives from the travel agent community. Key partners of note included Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Aer Lingus, TUI, Caribtours, Tropical Sky, Hays Travel, Lotus Dial-a-Flight and Trailfinders.
From the 1st to the 3rd of November, Barbados attended World Travel Market, one of the leading annual events for the international travel sector, hosted in the ExCel Centre, London, for three days of meetings with partners, media, suppliers, agents and operators from the UK, Ireland and Europe.
The Barbados delegation was led by Minister for Tourism and International Travel, Lisa Cummins. The Minister was joined by CEO of Barbados Marketing Tourism Inc. (BTMI), Jens Thraenhart; BTMI Chairman, Roseanne Myers; BHTA Chairman, Geoffery Roach; BTMI Director Europe, Anita Nightingale; and BTMI Interim Head of Global Markets, Cheryl Carter.
UK travellers have been found to be spending more on holidays now, including premium seats, booking higher categories of accommodation, excursions and staying longer within destinations. Not only will this have a positive impact on the average length of stay but will also have a positive impact on visitor spend in Barbados.
World2Meet (W2M) announced that it will be operating a chartered service from Madrid, Spain in July 2022, using an A350 with 432 seats. Two days of operation have been confirmed to date July 5 and 12, with more under consideration. TUI Discovery announced it will base one vessel in Barbados in Winter 2021/22, with a further 2 ships currently scheduled for 2022/23.
As consumer confidence returns, tour operators have expressed an interest in supporting key niche markets of focus for Barbados, including Halal, Health and Wellness, Weddings and Honeymoons, African Diaspora. Several operators expressed great interest in the West Indies/England cricket series in Barbados currently scheduled for January and March 2022, was expressed by several operators.
The media interest in Barbados was visible throughout the three-day London event. BTMI’s PR representatives met with over 30 media from across the United Kingdom and Ireland, solidifying relationships and securing media coverage for the upcoming year.
Minister Cummins did several interviews over the course of the three days with a number of media, including the Financial Times, BBC, Business Traveller Magazine, Travel Weekly, ABTA magazine and TravelMole.
In these interviews, Minister Cummins discussed the increased capacity to Barbados from the UK, including Aer Lingus’ new route from Manchester and the upcoming inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight from Edinburgh to Bridgetown. Minister Cummins also spoke about the opening of new and redeveloped attractions, restaurants and hotels on the island, the travel protocols for international arrivals, and her vision for the future of tourism on the island.
It was a successful introduction to BTMI for new Chief Executive Officer, Jens Thraenhart, as he was awarded a Global Tourism Hero Award by Juergen Steinmetz of the World Tourism Network. This award recognises those that have shown extraordinary leadership, innovation, and actions within the travel industry. Thraenhart was awarded this accolade for his amazing achievements in the industry, including his time as the Mekong Tourism Organization Chairman.
On Wednesday World Travel Market announced the very best stands of the conference in which Barbados Tourism Marketing was highly commended for its “good use of colour which gave a real feel for the country”, according to the panel of four expert independent judges. The judges were Paul Richer, Senior Partner at Genesys Digital Transformation; Kim Thomson, Publishing Director at Travel & Tourism News Middle East (TTN); Bill Richards, Senior Partner at Tourism Research & Marketing (TRAM); and Martin Fullard, Editorial Director at Mash Media.