As more destinations compete for a piece of the world???s tourism pie, this country???s tourism minister, Richard Sealy, has stated that the diversification of Barbados??? product must be accompanied by airlift from non-traditional destinations.

He made this observation yesterday while addressing delegates and local government officials attending 22nd Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-level Authorities of Tourism at Hilton Barbados.

Mr. Sealy, who is also the Acting Prime Minister, said most Caribbean countries historically, have limited their tourism marketing to North America and Europe and did not explore the potential of creating direct air routes with our Latin American neighbours.

He told his audience the Ministry sought to rectify this; and through the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., the island had benefitted from a direct air service operated by GOL Linhas Aeras from Sao Paulo Brazil since June 2010.

???This service has contributed approximately 4,641 visitors from this new market in 2013. Sao Paulo, the largest city in the Americas and a major centre for both culture and economic activity, represents the first gateway in our plans to expand into South America,??? Mr. Sealy noted.

The Tourism Minister also revealed that the island???s diversification policy has led the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. to negotiate to expand our air linkages to Bogota Colombia to Avianca.

Mr. Sealy said he expected this strategy to ???pay dividends??? as Bogota is not only one of the largest cities in South America, but its El Dorado International Airport is a major hub into the rest of South America and offers significant opportunities for further expansion.

???These airlines and cities are not only significant potential markets for Barbados, but also offer excellent linkages domestically and internationally. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. is seeking to penetrate the wider Latin American markets over the course of the next few years,??? he noted.

Mr. Sealy said this expansion will be accompanied by a marketing and communications thrust to appeal to tourists and to attract and sustain airlift.??The Congress ended today.

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