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Losing ground in tourist market

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

Losing ground in tourist market

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American tour operator Greg Brown suggests Barbados needs to ramp up its image in the global marketplace to attract more tourists.
“I live in the Texas market. I have not really seen a lot of visibility in the US marketplace with this destination and there are a lot of other destinations – Jamaica, Dominican Republic – that are out there with a lot of image advertising and I think that as we head into 2014 Barbados needs more of a presence in the global market to get people to come here,” Brown told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.
He is vice president, Caribbean product development for CheapCaribbean.Com, a company that was once the number one United States tour operator to Barbados. Speaking exclusively to BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY during the recent Barbados Tourism Authority’s (BTA) meeting for tour operators from its global markets, Brown harked back to the days of the BTA’s Best Of Barbados marketing programme, which, he said, “allowed us to attract a lot of the US marketplace that would have gone to different destinations”.
He said: “Back in the glory days when the US marketplace gave a lot of business to Barbados, Barbados was able to subsidize the price point, which would offset the higher cost of airline tickets to Barbados, and it allowed companies . . . that are also price-point focused to drive a considerable amount of business to the destination.”
But, he said, since the Best Of Barbados programme was cancelled “for a variety of reasons, we have actually seen a decrease in business as the overall price point to Barbados has increased”.
And the tour operator warned of threats facing Barbados from “a lot of competition out there in the marketplace”.
“Every destination is trying to get a relatively low up-front price point,” Brown said.
CheapCaribbean.Com is an online operation, and Brown said it was important to have that initial online opening into a potential market, “just to get people to click” and get excited about the destination.
Once this interest was ignited and potential visitors were attracted by the low price point, it was easier for operators to “upsell” them to the luxury hotels, to the all-inclusive hotels and to the other accommodations the island offered, he suggested.
The tour operator still considers Barbados “an exciting destination” with a lot to offer.
“I think it is exciting to see there are a lot of exciting things happening to Barbados. There is now this re-energization of new and exciting brands.” (GC)