British Airways (BA) has played a big part in making the United Kingdom (UK) Barbados’ number one tourist market.
This is according to Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William “Billy” Griffith, who was speaking at a cocktail reception, held recently to celebrate BA’s 65th anniversary of flying to Barbados, at Sweetfield Manor, Britton’s Hill, St. Michael.
“We can speak fondly of the relationship of British Airways and Barbados,” Mr. Griffith told tourism officials, industry players, travel agents as well as local and overseas staff of BA at the reception.
“Partnership is always about good business; it’s about truth and it’s about give and take. I think, certainly, in our negotiations in the last several years, they get what they want and we get what we want. We have a successful operation that realized [approximately] 220,000 UK arrivals to the island.
“Thanks to British Airways; you have helped us to make the UK market [our] number one, and we want to make that even more so in the coming years,” Mr. Griffith said.
He also thanked the airline for its 12 weekly flights to the island during winter, and highlighted that Barbados was one of four destinations that was serviced by the BA Concorde.
BA Executive and Head of Gatwick Commercial, Graeme Connor, also thanked the BTMI for its longstanding partnership with BA. He shared that 65 years ago the flight to Barbados took 17 hours and 45 minutes.
Back then, it operated from Prestwick and stopped in Bermuda before landing in Barbados. As time evolved, flights also went via New York and Antigua before the island benefited from its first BA direct and nonstop flight in 1968.
Mr. Connor said over the years BA flew several aircrafts to the island, including the Boeing 707, the Boeing 747, and the Concorde, which started scheduled services around 1987.
“This was our flagship, an icon in aviation history, something we are really proud of. For 15 years on and off, this supersonic jet graced the skies over Barbados and it is fabulous that one of those aircrafts still remains here in Barbados – a place and an aircraft that has a place in all our hearts.
“Barbados is hugely popular with our customers; it is a home away from home. Actually, it is the only reason we have been flying here for that long, … our customers and yourself have given us loyalty and the support during that time,” Mr. Connor said.
Also speaking at the reception was British High Commissioner to Barbados, Janet Douglas. She said BA’s service of 65 years to the island has been an “invaluable boost to the relationship” between the UK and Barbados.
“Over 100,000 UK tourists come to Barbados every year. While they are here, they have such a great time and they are often repeat visitors. Some of the people I’ve met come back as many as 20 or 30 times. It’s quite extraordinary, and shows a real dedication to the island they love.
“By coming here they not only cement that great relationship between Barbados and the UK, they also give a great boost to Barbados’ local businesses. It has helped to strengthen an already strong relationship…. British Airways has helped to cement these relationships.”
Mrs. Douglas further noted that Barbados is a safe destination that “meets all the aspirations of the high-end discerning British tourists”, and pointed to its fantastic heritage, beautiful historic sites and great beaches. She added that the average British visitor to Barbados was “quite well behaved”.
During the event, Mr. Griffith presented Mr. Connor with a beautiful painting entitled the “Gift of Flight” by Jeena Chatrani.
It illustrates an iconic Barbadian flying fish soaring over the ocean, which symbolically represents British Airways’ aircraft flying over the ocean between Barbados and the UK. In turn, Mr. Connor presented Mr. Griffith with a model of BA’s triple 7 aircraft.