Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Adrian Elcock, has reiterated the benefits of the sports tourism niche to the island???s economic development.

He explained why government was aggressively pushing this area during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service recently.

Mr. Elcock said the island???s sports calendar was packed with activities, which began with the successful hosting of the T20 cricket series between the West Indies and England in March.

Moreover, he was of the opinion that securing the Top Gear Barbados Festival contract and the upcoming Caribbean Premier League Cricket competition next month, would have a ripple effect in the economy.

???These sporting events are important on many different fronts. You have the short-term benefits as it relates to the employment of temporary persons and the vending opportunities. [There are] also long-term benefits such as the branding that you get out of [these events] and the media rights. When Barbados is transported on international cameras around the world, that is almost free publicity for Barbados. If structured [correctly], it could have untold benefits as it [relates] to long-term business in the future,??? he elaborated.

The BTA Chairman mentioned the role of digital marketing and its success to date. Citing the Rihanna campaign as an example, he said under that contract public relations was measured by impressions.

???We have never had more than a couple hundred million impressions in any campaign we did. With the campaign we [executed] using Rihanna???s social media channels, we hit a billion impressions and it???s climbing still in less than two years,??? he noted.

Mr. Elcock said Rihanna???s campaign had helped to create awareness among a new audience for Barbados within the 22 to 44 age group. He urged the public to be patient and have faith in the work being undertaken by tourism officials.

???Sometimes we are not as patient as we ought to be. Barbados has an extremely high repeat visitor profile but, Barbados also has an average of visitor which is age 55. So, if you have an older visitor coming more frequently, it means that we are not engaging a younger audience. When that person gets to a point that they cannot travel, Barbados could have a problem,??? he observed.

Mr. Elcock continued: ???It is incumbent on any board to look at the long-term options where we look at a more integrated strategy that would attract a younger audience to Barbados so that we always have that sustainability of industry. That segues into sports, events, et cetera. [That is why] you see us putting a lot more dollars into those types of initiatives because it opens up our audiences. It helps to fill the softer periods of the industry where April to December can be more sustained and we understand it will have ripple effects as it relates to spend in tourism.???

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