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Arrivals rising in tourism sector

Arrivals rising in tourism sector
Some visitors relaxing on the beach at a designated are at Harbour Lights. (FILE)

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For the first time since December 2020, the local tourism industry recorded a major milestone, with the latest statistics from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) suggesting a positive turn ahead of the 2021/2022 winter season.

During the period July 2021, some 10 819 visitors travelled to Barbados, a significant increase of 6 745 visitors compared to the corresponding period of July 2020.

The United States (US) copped 43.3 per cent market share, while the United Kingdom (UK) contributed 34.4 per cent of business with 3 722 arrivals for the reporting period. This occurred after Barbados was added to the UK COVID-19 Green watchlist. Barbados was fortunate to be placed on this list for the second time since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

For the same period, Caribbean arrival figures stood at 1 391 and 390 from Canada, an increase in both markets year on year.

Arrivals rising in tourism sector
Craig Hinds (GP)

Interim CEO of BTMI, Craig Hinds, described the achievement as a step in the right direction after the tireless efforts, on and off scene, to re-build the tourism product.

He stated that “Barbados has, and continues to weather this COVID-19 storm, but while this period has been difficult for the industry, the BTMI is so pleased to see the recent sprouts of positive growth. This growth is a direct result of the excellent sales and marketing efforts in our overseas markets through campaigns like our “Sweet Summer Savings” promotion, as well as maintaining strong partnerships with our airline, cruise and tourism partners.”

BTMI continues to tow a line of strong representation in the United States market, sponsoring this year’s “Citi Open” which was held in Washington, D.C. This resulted in Italian teenager and competition winner, Jannik Sinner, winning a five-day/four-night vacation to Barbados.

Taking place from July 31 to August 8, 2021, “Citi Open” was the fifth biggest event in US professional tennis, and featured some of the best tennis players. Known to align with world-class partners, the event also attracts VIPs and celebrities, along with over 5 600 hours of global broadcast in 177 markets.

Not far away in New York City, all eyes were on Barbados for “Fox and Friends with Chef Javon Cummins” as the flavours of Barbados filled the Fox Square. Cummins joined the hosts of Fox and Friends for their wedding taste testing segment. This time, through culinary activities like this, which display all that Barbados has to offer, have proven why visitors continue to choose the island as their destination of choice.

Barbados was also on show in Greenwich, Connecticut, where the “2021 Greenwich Polo Season” provided a major boost for the island’s tourism product.

Hinds said “it was the perfect partnership for Barbados as Greenwich, Connecticut is ideally located within close proximity to New York.  It is easily accessible to residents who utilise JFK as the preferred airport of choice for both commercial and private jet travel. This partnership provided us with an opportunity to engage and reposition Barbados as a viable post-COVID option for affluent travellers with above average disposable income as we defend existing airlift from JFK, while trying to create the environment for incremental capacity as circumstances permit.”

Patrons were also treated to the culinary delights of Barbadian Chefs Creig Greenidge, Trevon Stoute and Cummins.

In July, BTMI teamed up with Sandals Resort as they brought 15 United States radio stations from 11 cities to Barbados to give listeners a chance at winning a four-day/three-night vacation to the hotel here. The radio stations broadcast live from the property and included tourism officials led by Senator Lisa Cummins, Minister of Tourism and International Transport.

The promotion, which was also supported by American Airlines, reached over four million listeners.

Additionally, BBC award-winning journalist and presenter, Zeinab Badawi, and crew visited Barbados to film two episodes of Global Questions with Prime Minister Mottley and Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy.  Key topics facing the island and the region were tackled; as well as one episode of “Hard Talk” with Sir Hilary Beckles. The episodes aired this month to their entire BBC World viewership.

On the heels of “Global Questions”, British broadcaster ITV followed suit, selecting Barbados as their location to film a segment for their popular daytime talk show, “The Lorraine Show”.

Presenter for the segment was award-winning author Candice Brathwaite, who came to the island to learn more about her Barbadian ancestry. Born and raised in Brixton, London, she was primarily raised by her Bajan grandparents who came to the UK as part of the Windrush Generation.

Also contributing to the increasing arrival numbers, was the “Welcome Stamp” programme.  It was not surprising to see that the majority of uptake came from the destination’s primary source markets of the U.S., U.K., Canada and Ireland.

With one year of success already under its belt, the “Welcome Stamp” programme was recently renewed for another year, presenting openings for more digital nomads and other professionals to live and work from Barbados.

Hinds stated that “the programme has proven to be a successful innovation which has positioned Barbados as a leader in the world’s eyes as we adapt our tourism product to complement the changing global climate.”

He added that “many global citizens have made Barbados their home; millennials, families and investors alike, and BTMI is therefore looking forward to continuing the  promotion of the initiative for another year, allowing those already here to extend their stay, while  giving prospective “Welcome Stampers” the chance to experience all that Barbados has to offer.”  (PR)