A joint tourism initiative has been undertaken between Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of US$20 million.
It is aimed at repositioning the tourism sector through the implementation of key tourism initiatives. One of these key initiatives is the National Tourism Programme.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins announced the initiative, as she addressed participants of the ‘Re-Imagining Tourism in Barbados’ online consultation. It began last Monday, and is being hosted by the Ministry in collaboration with the IDB.
She said: “The overall objective of the National Tourism Programme is to re-invigorate Barbados’ tourism industry with an emphasis on increasing visitor expenditure. The specific objectives of this Programme are to increase tourist expenditures on heritage and cultural products and to increase the digital visibility of Barbados in the tourism market place.
“The programme will revitalise our tourism offerings by implementing a suite of new cultural heritage tourism products including the development of a Visitor Centre and an Art Gallery in the Old Town Hall building, [and] the development of an interpretive tour which traverses and places on display Barbados’ UNESCO World Heritage Property.”
Minister Cummins noted that the new cultural heritage tourism initiatives would provide “a much needed fillip to Barbados’ tourism product”, which has often been described “as vanilla and mature”.
Under The National Tourism Programme, one component will focus on digitisation development and according to Ms. Cummins “is well suited to be a vehicle for the re-imagination of Barbados’ tourism sector”.
“I am delighted to know that a key output of this component will see the BTMI [Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.] utilising programmatic advertising as the preferred method for advertising…. Other opportunities to re-imagine Barbados’ tourism sector under the National Tourism Programme also include the use of a Digital Marketing Platform in a co-ordinated manner with the private sector – integrating analytic tourism customer data insights and global programmatic advertising campaigns.”
The tourism minister noted that historically, globally and nationally, trends in tourism emphasised investment in accommodation, and examination of hotel occupancy rates, among other areas; however, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to diversify Barbados’ tourism products and services, new ones had to be developed.
Senator Cummins added: “We require flexible policies to incentivise and restore investment in the tourism sector to enhance the quality of our tourism products and promote a sustainable recovery….With the planned incorporation of new technologies in the development of these new cultural heritage tourism products, the opportunity is present and readily available for this re-imagination to take place.”