Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jens Thraenhart, speaking at the first Visit Barbados Industry Forum on the topic “Transforming Tourism In Barbados”, at Hilton Barbados, yesterday. (GP)

Barbados must be promoted and marketed differently if it is to increase consumer demand.  This is possible if smart public-private sector partnerships are formed. 

This is according to Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s (BTMI), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Jens Thraenhart, who was speaking at the first Visit Barbados Industry Forum on the topic “Transforming Tourism In Barbados”, at Hilton Barbados, yesterday.

Dr. Thraenhart, in his presentation, pointed out that people need to be given a reason to visit Barbados via inspiring storytelling, and that consumer demand may lead to a case for airlines to add flights to the island.

Referencing the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Dr. Thraenhart said: “As the role of destination marketing organization evolves, so must its business model; public and private sectors must collaborate together, these two forces can achieve greatness. This is especially vital in preparing for sustainable tourism recovery. So, this is what we need to do when rebuilding tourism post-COVID-19.” 

He stressed that the old model of pushing messages down through advertisements to the consumers and businesses was not the dominant way to operate anymore, and a new model must be created, establishing “smart public-private sector partnerships”, where all stakeholders interact together, from businesses to consumers, including Barbadians, and the BTMI acting as a facilitator. 

He stated that once that engagement between all stakeholders takes place, they must then work together to build a platform that has assessed three factors – economic impact; inclusivity, and customer relationships. 

Dr. Thraenhart said if this is done well, they can create “inclusive initiatives to reduce market spend and increase return on investment [and] we’ll reposition Barbados from beach-only to more than just beaches, focusing on locally authentic experiences”.  

In addition, he noted that data is a key driver to giving access to the long tail of businesses to consumers, and consumers from visitors and residents more valuable and personalised experiences. 

He also pointed out that there is more to Barbados than just sea, sand, and sun, and now is the time to tell the story of Barbados and what the island has to offer as a tourist destination. “How do we tell that story? By creating innovation pillars from being digital, being sustainable, being safe, and being people-centric,” he said. 

He disclosed that one initiative the BTMI is currently seeking to create is ‘The Bajan Experiences Collection’.  It will be a collection of authentic Bajan small, local service and product providers in the categories of stay, taste, do, shop and tour, and collectively, these experiences will represent the heart of Bajan culture, which represents the essence of the brand promise of Barbados.

Participants at the Visit Barbados Industry Forum at Hilton Barbados, yesterday. (GP)

Dr. Thraenhart also said that the BTMI is working on a campaign around ‘Bajan moments, memories and secrets’, which will be centred around collaborative viral storytelling that drives consumer engagement, content creation, industry engagement and exposure, and it will be powered by technology.

The CEO highlighted that the BTMI had partnered with an organisation called ‘Low Season Traveller’, to promote destinations outside of expensive, and many times, over-crowded periods. 

He believes that low-season travel will be the next luxury niche market in tourism, and the way to develop sustainable and balanced tourism destinations to foster inclusive growth. 

“People don’t want to spend time in crowded spaces and pay higher prices and I think that’s a consumer trend shift we are seeing post-COVID.  So, the goal is really to make sure that we position Barbados as an all-year tourism destination, which will benefit all stakeholders, and result in destination sustainability,” Dr. Thraenhart explained.

“We need to innovate, to really create these unique experiences in Barbados.  We need to make sure that we collaborate and engage the industry and the stakeholders and connect consumers and businesses but also the residents because the residents are a key part of the equation.  And as the Prime Minister said, everybody on this island needs to be a chief welcome officer,” he stressed.

He pledged that the BTMI would host quarterly Visit Barbados Industry forums and launch new communications mechanisms to enhance stakeholder relations and engagement, as well as not to host any Visit Barbados Industry forums at any venue using single-use plastic.

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