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The new way forward


The new way forward

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Tourism As I See It

Barbados Tourism Authority chairman Adrian Elcock has a “new vision” for the tourism industry. He outlined it last month while delivering the feature address at the Intimate Hotels of Barbados annual general meeting at Island Inn Hotel. Today, BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY publishes the final part of his presentation.

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) will come into reality. This new organisation must think differently, look differently, and it must be designed to be nimble and responsive.

It must embrace the Barbadian people both at home and in the diaspora to reinforce its mission and purpose. Our international partners embrace this philosophy and the effectiveness of future relationships will depend on it.

We will be successful through the deliberate steps that we are taking. In the United States, we have recognised that we cannot grow that market without an abrupt shift in strategy.  

Our strategy is simple but it will be effective. We will accept the reality that the tour operator business model is dying in the US and we will delve headlong in the arena of stronger alliances with the digital travel trade and direct to consumer marketing.

We will use strategic alliances to own that digital space within the Caribbean tourism space and we will dominate the conversation with the consumer. In terms of our human resource deployment, we will increase the number of business development managers

Business development managers in the US in key cities and their job will be to build upon existing travel and demographic trends, research, and data and strategically increase our arrivals from these areas to support the increasing and improving room stock anticipated over the next three years.

In the United Kingdom, we will continue to expand our dominance of this market by developing outside of the Southeast towards the North.

We will build strategic alliance with tour operators who have dominance in Manchester and Scotland and we will look for opportunities to stimulate further travel from Ireland.

By focusing in this manner, it will allow us to create further demand for airlift from Manchester and this will prove strategic to our continental European expansion as this proves to be a better hub in the absence of slots at Heathrow. To support this, we will have a physical presence in the north of London.

Continental Europe has enjoyed significant growth for us, especially Germany. We will continue to dominate the space for the German traveling to the eastern Caribbean and this winter we will add our third flight out of Germany on Condor.

We will begin an aggressive push into France so we can build that market in the next three years.

To do this, we are finalising a strategy to feed off of the 14 flights a week that enters Caribbean airspace from France.

This hopefully will lead us to close the circle on our negotiations with Air France, by showing them a sustainable pattern of visitors who originate in the French mainland.

With the addition of WestJet to our tourism arsenal from Canada in 2009, we have proven that there is still a lot of demand for Barbados.

The board has approved a proposal that will see significant increases in airlift over the next few months on both Air Canada and WestJet.

This airlift will be supported by additional staff being deployed to Canada,  and an aggressive consumer coop campaign with our airline partners.

We will continue to invest in Latin America because it simply makes sense as I explained before. We have approved additional resources for this region and we have negotiated new airlift from that region for 2015.

We have had a huge hole in the Caribbean with the demise of RedJet. We must get Caribbean Airlines and LIAT to work with us and allow us to develop competitive fares and packages to support our expansion in the region, particularly out of the French Caribbean which has shown significant growth for us over the last three years.

To rebalance our arrivals across the year in order to develop a year round destination, we will reorganise our sports department to be more strategic in focus.

We will have a true sports tourism department with trained personnel and international linkages to marketing companies that operate within that space.

We have had a number of discussions with a large international agency and it is hoped that we can achieve a strategic partnership that will catapult us into that sphere.

This by far, is one of the most important priorities for the new BTMI as it endeavours to make Barbados a compelling year round destination.

We have made these decisions because we needed to. We need to have the best people, use the best technologies, and to utilise quantitative data to improve our decision making.

We will have a bold new organisation, with bold new directors and management, and with a bold, new, ambitious focus and identity. There is no other way.

We cannot continue the way we are, as we are causing a multitude of problems when we don’t perform on all cylinders firing. We need to start now to transition our marketing efforts seamlessly into the BTMI.

We are not saying that there will not be challenges ahead or that it will be easy, but I firmly believe that this organisation has an extremely bright future ahead. It will require creativity, ingenuity, and commitment.