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Visitors to the island on a hike through a gully. (FP)

"It’s not about the hand that you’re dealt, but how you play the hand …"

This observation was made by the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) Marketing Director, Averil Byer, as she addressed the Barbados Network Consultation this morning.

The presentation, entitled The Road Ahead for Tourism, offered both a review of the sector and insight into its future.?? The Marketing Director noted that while the challenges were many – including the closure of properties and average tourist spend having reduced from US$165 to $157 – the sector continued to hold much promise, including the cruise division.

"For cruise, there was a specific strategy, particularly out of the UK to create the cruise and stay into Barbados, and that was done through P & O Cruises with the Ventura and the Azura [ships]…[Visitors] stayed in Barbados for three days, cruised for seven, and then returned to Barbados for an additional four – that made a significant difference to the UK numbers in 2011," she disclosed.

Emerging markets were also holding their own, as Ms. Byer revealed that efforts to introduce the Barbados brand to new source markets was taking effect.

??"We set up a representative [for Barbados] in Brazil…we hired an advertising agency to make sure that we were getting our message out…we had the Rihanna concert there last year which helped us significantly in developing the Brazil market.?? I think that more people [in Brazil] are aware of Barbados now than they ever have been before," she remarked.??

The BTA Marketing Director also noted that local properties would be updating their facilities, with Coral Reef, Discovery Bay and Settlers Beach under refurbishment, while Grand Barbados was slated to become a part of the Holiday Inn chain.?? New properties will also be making a debut, with Ixora Apartments and Candelisa Resorts expected to open in September.

Speaking to her organisation’s hopes for tourism, Ms. Byer maintained: "Our vision is to be the most sought after destination within the next five years, delivering unparalleled quality and consistent experiences, flavoured with Barbadian culture…we are going to stay true to the things that are Barbadian."??

She revealed that there were key strategies in play to make this a reality, including strategic partnerships; focus on sports and cultural events; emphasis on the World Heritage Site designation; and embracing the diaspora, through the Barbados Family and Friends initiative and similar programmes.

The BTA Marketing Director warned that although the tourism industry was expected to grow worldwide by four per cent this year, "we have a tough road ahead of us".?? We have to stay true to our vision; we have to keep aligned strategically; we have to make the right decisions at the right time; and embrace who we are as a nation and as a people.?? We’re all in this together and together we can all make it right," Ms. Byer advised.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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