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Barbados fighting APD with rewards

Barbados fighting APD with rewards Petra Roach, Barbados Tourism Authority's vice-president marketing and sales UK. (FP)

By Stacey Russell in London | Thu, November 08, 2012 - 12:01 AM

IT IS NO SECRET: Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) is affecting family vacation travel from Britain to Barbados. Nonetheless, the island is fighting back with a rewards programme as part of a marketing strategy aimed at maintaining tourists’ loyalty to the Land of the Flying Fish.

Petra Roach, Barbados Tourism Authority's (BTA) vice-president marketing and sales UK, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY at her Tottenham Court Road, London office on Thursday, “We know, even though I don’t have exact figures, that the family market has been strained as a result of [the hike in APD].”

She said on-the-ground intelligence confirmed the Central Bank of Barbados’ official perspective that diehard visitors to the island were “spending less and, for example, doing four rather than five attractions”.

“As a result we have come up with an initiative that will be valid for next year for attractions – buy one, get one free. And there will be some special kids' offers. If a child is travelling with a parent, s/he can get free entry,” she explained.

Roach, who has led marketing and sales of Barbados as an iconic tourist destination in Europe and Britain for the last decade, said the incentive was in the form of a Barbados Inclusive Discount Card that will kick in on January 1, 2013, and remain valid for the entire year.

“It will be available through the tour operators. Automatically, people will get one when they book a holiday to Barbados. If it is through an online operator offering package deals, they will still get it, she added.

The marketer noted that the latest eight per cent APD increase in April 2012 also caused a 2.1 per cent decline in cruise tourists, according to Dr DeLisle Worrell, Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, who published his January to September 2012 review of the economy last week.

“We have also seen a lot of cruise ships complaining about the additional cost to the overall package that they have to sell in terms of ensuring that they have the cost of the APD included,” Roach said.

However, BTA UK has struck a new deal with British Airways (BA) to assure airlift out of Britain during this and next year’s winter. This is expected to counter the ten per cent fall-off in arrivals from the British Isles from January to August 2012 – a phenomenon Worrell has attributed mainly to fewer BA arrivals in Barbados.

“With the APD, airlines are scrutinizing the routes that they are operating to, and anywhere that is not profitable they are getting rid of . . . .

“We’ve just done some very successful negotiations with [BA] where we’ve maintained capacity for winter 2012/13 at a time when they are cutting back capacity to most of the other destinations,” Roach said.

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