Tourism marketers have been cautioned about devaluing the island’s tourism product in order to compete with the "eye-catching rates" being offered by newer low cost destinations.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, sounded this warning yesterday, while delivering the feature address at the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s Fourth Annual General Meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He noted that the response to competition in the industry was to fight on the battleground of the competitior, but he lamented that this had resulted in a devaluation of the island’s tourism product.

"To combat the newer, low cost destinations, our industry players have chosen, it would seem, to undervalue the Barbados product by attempting to compete on price; they opted for reducing prices as opposed to tenaciously retaining their standing by adding value," Mr. Stuart observed.

To improve the value-added to the tourism sector, the Prime Minister advised tourism planners to widen their definition of the industry.?? "This process of widening the tourism experience can be facilitated by better marketing of all of our tourism services, both in overseas markets before our visitors reach Barbados, as well as when they are actually in Barbados," he maintained.

Cognisant of the challenges confronting industry players to combat decreased visitor numbers, and the introduction of the popular Staycation programme to compensate for the loss, Mr. Stuart pointed out that while Government remained committed to the sector, the time had come for it to be more innovative.

"There are some realities, however, which we must all face.?? The primary of these realities is that government’s financial resources are finite, and given its other responsibilities, it cannot fully subsidise the sector to the extent it would wish, even though its commitment to the sector is unimpeachable and beyond question.

"Innovation and creativity are going to be important to the survival and competitiveness of our tourism industry.?? These are going to be uncompromisingly critical to survival and success in the dynamic and complex tourism sector and will involve the efforts of every Barbadian," he cautioned.??

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