Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms have proven to be effective means of mass communication and the local tourism industry intends to use this formidable, and affordable medium to its benefit.
Revealing some of the projections and plans for the industry for the winter 2012-2013 season, during a press conference at Ocean 2 hotel this week, Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, explained that the partnership with Barbadian-born artist, Rihanna, would see ???brand Barbados’ benefitting from her significant online presence.
"It is an extremely cost effective way to increase your destination awareness… The Facebook campaign with Rihanna…will be done before the end of the month…The teasers that came out the first week in November garnished the attraction of some 80 million people," he said, noting that this level of exposure was invaluable.
Elaborating on the campaign, the Tourism Minister stated that the public would see Rihanna "telling her story about Barbados, as a Barbadian, not as a singer…and pushing some of those things that are the essence of a vacation in Barbados…Nothing we have ever done has come close [to this]" he said.
Noting that traditional media would not be excluded, Mr. Sealy observed that Travel News recently highlighted Barbados’ social media campaign as avant garde, while Travel and Leisure magazine had expressed an interest in this new "social media assault".
Addressing some of the additional projects being undertaken to develop the $1.2 billion industry, Minister Sealy disclosed that the White Paper on Tourism, which was laid in Parliament on Tuesday, will be debated at a later date; while a draft final report of the Tourism Master Plan would be ready by the first quarter of 2013.
A Tourism Host Programme was also in the works, the Minister said, in an effort to "prepare people in the sector to enhance the quality of our product offering… [Our visitors] are more than tourists, they are expanded citizenry…It is okay to say tourism is our business, let us play our part – but what is this business called tourism?" the Minister queried, while suggesting that persons, whether directly or indirectly involved in the sector, should be encouraged to become hosts.
Mr. Sealy also observed that as emerging markets, such as China, became emergent, it would be crucial to develop other areas of need for the tourism sector, such as interpretation and translation in Portuguese, Cantonese and Mandarin. "We need to be bold and open our minds to these possibilities," he stressed.