Members of the Barbados delegation led by Minister Kerrie Symmonds meeting with key buyers during last week’s World Travel Market. (GP)
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It was a time of celebration for the Barbados delegation at last week’s World Travel Market (WTM) in London as both Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds, and destination Barbados were recognised at the leading global event for the travel industry.
Top UK tour operator, Virgin Holidays, issued the Everyone Can Take On The World award to Symmonds for his promotion of a policy of diversity and inclusiveness in Caribbean tourism.
The award came following a commitment Symmonds made recently during his speech at the opening ceremony of a Virgin Holidays sponsored training course for hospitality workers in Barbados.
He stated that “the image of discrimination and undesirability surrounding the region’s treatment of persons with disabilities and same sex preferences respectively, has to come to an end and my policy is that Barbados must lead by example in order to ensure that the change is tangible and that the process of change is expedited.”
Destination Barbados was also celebrated as the best destination for weddings and honeymoons at the Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards, beating Mauritius to the top spot as voted for by thousands of UK travel agents.
Both accolades came against the backdrop of Barbados’ interactive booth at WTM, where approximately 100 meetings were held with key buyers. A full Barbados delegation including Donna Cadogan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport; Sunil Chatrani, Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and Barbados Tourism Product Authority; Stephen Austin and Senator Rudy Grant, Chairman and CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association respectively, met with players such as Virgin Holidays, British Airways Holidays and TUI UK, to discuss and agree on commercial and marketing partnerships for 2019.
The booth was designed and constructed to showcase the culture and diversity of the destination to the travel industry. During the conference, the BTMI unveiled its new marketing focus for 2019 – the Year of Wellness and Soft Adventure.
The theme was brought to life through healthy juices mixed by "blender bicycle" on the stand itself, and served to guests at the Wellness Bar; a daily Wellness Hour with chef Michael Harrison serving Barbadian cuisine and a range of teas; masseuses on hand to help visitors relax after a hard day’s work; video content promoting Barbados’ soft adventure highlights; and Virtual Reality headsets to bring the Barbados experience to life.
Symmonds said he was delighted with the outcome for Barbados at his first WTM show. “Visitors from the UK are tracking to be their highest ever in 2018, so it was very important that we came to London with a strong invitation to our partners here to work even more with us next year to break that record again,” he said.
“I have also been honoured to collect two awards for Barbados while I have been here, showing once more how highly esteemed our island is in the UK. It has been impressive and encouraging to see the delegation working so hard this last three days and I think we have every reason to look forward to 2019 with optimism.” (PR)