Tourism operators have sweetened their staycation deals for the long weekend that coincides with the climax of the Crop Over Festival.
Under a special domestic tourism programme to encourage more locals to take advantage of the tourism experience here, Barbadians will be able to book at least two nights in local accommodation and get another night free, from next Friday, July 29.
Making it clear that the special had nothing to do with the lower-than-expected bookings from visitors this summer, officials said it was a further tweaking of the 14-year-old summer staycation programme that had been well supported over the years.
Making the announcement on Friday at the headquarters of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) in Warrens, Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Renée Coppin said the package will also include dining and attractions.
Currently, the specials are available between July 29 and August 3, and some hotels are adding a further reduction in the already discounted summer rates for locals.
“We are happy to be a part of this Crop Over weekend special as we bring awareness to the work of our members in offering accommodation, attraction, and dining activities to Barbadians,” said Coppin.
“We hope that many of you will continue to come out and enjoy the staycation offers as you have been for many years, and certainly in the last two-and-a-half years.”
This aspect of the domestic tourism programme is being done through a collaborative effort between the BHTA, BTMI, Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB), and the Ministry of Tourism.
Residents can make their booking on www.bookbarbados.com or directly with the hotel property at which they wish to stay. The growing list of participating properties has reached just over 14 so far.
Coppin dismissed the notion that the further discounted summer staycation package was in response to the less-than-ideal performance of the overseas market.
“We felt that we are in a long weekend and a lot of Barbadians would wish to exploit the opportunity to enjoy the long weekend. Those of us who are not interested in going to jump or to partake in the Crop Over activities during the day may wish to do a staycation. So we thought that in partnership with the BTMI that we should offer something extra for the upcoming Crop Over weekend,” she explained.
“Staycation offers have been and are available. There are some fantastic prices out there . . . . So there are many offers already available and this is just a little extra value and to bring awareness to the fact that we are still open,” added Coppin.
Chairman of the IHB Mahmood Patel suggested extending the special offer for the remainder of the summer period, noting that the Crop Over weekend should be a start to getting more locals to experience the tourism product.
“A lot of Barbadians don’t know the experience of what we call the tourist attractions and we need to call these local attractions . . . that we should build into our staycation package as well. Local tourism is becoming a big plank post-COVID,” said Patel, while indicating that people were becoming increasingly aware of the importance of spending their money locally first.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins welcomed the new offering, saying the time had come for the development of a single space where Barbadians are able to access a combination of specials that include accommodation, attractions, and dining experiences.
“I am going to work with the BTMI and the various partners to see how we can treat to that, to ensure that there is a single space that allows Barbadians to combine specials like this one for Crop Over, specials for the summer like the general staycation packages, [and] specials that the direct tourism services may have, all in a single space,” she said.
Describing the Crop Over weekend special as exciting, Cummins acknowledged it has been a very difficult past two years for the country, and especially the tourism sector, but also insisted that the offer was not in response to the projected summer bookings.
“We have always had staycations, and I want to deal frontally with the false narrative that has been put out there . . . . Barbados has always had staycations, especially in the summer months . . . . Our industry must continue to welcome locals because that is the mainstay on which our industry is based,” the Tourism Minister said.