Benefits Welcomed By Tourism Organisations

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New President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Colin Jordan.

Benefits which Barbados stands to gain from GOL airline, out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, are being welcomed by the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).

This was made clear as Chairman of the BTA, Ralph Taylor, and newly-elected President of the BHTA, Colin Jordan, shared their sentiments last Saturday night as they addressed a ceremony to mark the inaugural landing of GOL, at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Mr. Taylor, declaring that the new route would help to build "buoyancy" in our tourism product, explained that regular GOL flights would create the stability of earning foreign exchange and increased visitor arrivals, since over the last two years there was a significant decline in Barbados’ major market, the United Kingdom (UK).

He explained: "[The] UK is our major market but in the United States and Canada [markets] we saw significant growth and it is because of that growth in those two markets that we have been able to deliver increased levels of visitors in 2010… That’s what market buoyancy does- the more markets you have, the greater chances you have of creating buoyancy."

Recalling past failures in bringing South Americans to the island, Mr. Taylor said this occurred largely because Barbados had been unable to find a partner in an airline with the right strategy and right price points to make the effort viable. He pointed out that GOL, however, fitted this description and noted that an examination of airlift in the last decade showed that airlines which operated with success were the ones with the same strategic platform as GOL – "low cost carriers that are able to penetrate…and to have the price points to make people travel."??????

While the BTA official acknowledged the business opportunities with respect to exports, culture and shopping, he cautioned public and private sector entities about the need to work together to sustain the effort. He stressed: "In trying to penetrate the markets of Brazil, we need to see more hotels on board, more cooperatives with the hotel sector and the distribution sector of Brazil. We need to see work being done in the tour operator community; [with] travel agents on the ground in Brazil as well as seeing some sales distribution outlets created which would make convergence happen… more visitors from Brazil coming to our shores."??

Meanwhile, newly-elected President of the BHTA, Colin Jordan, stated that GOL offered possibilities for diversifying business and said it would open up new markets and "take away some of this distinction which we have between our winter and summer business". He also acknowledged its potential to make Southern Africa more accessible, as it "takes about five to six hours off of a flight coming from there to the Caribbean."

The official explained that the BHTA had already taken a proactive approach to cultivating the market. He explained: "We started on the ground to transit our menu [and] to have Portuguese versions of our menu and some of our in-room information. We’ve also participated in some of the familiarisation tours to Brazil."

And, he added that there had also been a recent graduation of groups of workers (those who interact closely with guests) from a class in Portuguese, held in conjunction with the Barbados Community College Language Centre. "We intend for this to be an ongoing exercise where we can learn and teach our people Portuguese so we can communicate properly and appropriately with those?? coming in from Brazil,"?? Mr. Jordan declared.

He stressed that it would take "a lot of hard work" to make business out of Brazil a reality and to sustain it, and urged all to work together. jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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