Submitted by Checkit-out (as a comment)
I suggest, to readers who have not already done so, to check out the website of the Caribbean travel awards link posted by David. Look at the list of 2012 Award Winners. Jamaica and/or Sandals make up close to half the winners. Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Antigua, St. Vincent and St. Lucia are all there; but no Barbados. It says winners are voted by travel agents worldwide. That may be partly true, but I think it is safe to assume that self promotion and politics are major influencers in the selection process.
It is interesting that Barbados was selected Caribbean’s Leading Destination in 2003, 2004 and 2005; and Leading Tourist and Convention Bureau (BTA?) in 1997, 2003 and 2004. GAIA was Caribbean’s Leading Airport in every year but one from 1998 to 2004. Since then, lots of nominations but no awards. Why is that? Did Jamaica suddenly improve its product overnight without anyone noticing? Who is responsible/accountable for the apparent decline in Barbados Tourism product and profile, at least relative to the rest of the Caribbean; and particularly Jamaica. These awards, or lack thereof, should be a very serious concern to all Barbadians. BTA would seem be Barbados’ primary promoter/politician, and should be held largely responsible.
From here in Toronto it is hard to see anything being done to promote the island. I follow the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail travel sections looking for Barbados articles or advertising. There are tons of full page Sandals/Beaches ads, St Lucia, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica. Sandals TV ads are spectacular. Apart from a very positive article about the Crane a couple of months ago, there has been virtually no mention of Barbados destinations, including in Air Canada Vacations advertising in the past couple of months or so.
Westjet Vacations has twice included Barbados in its newspaper advertising in the past month as follows. Full page ad on outside back page Globe and Mail Travel section as a large print eye catcher. “Sale on fall vacation packages” in top half of page. The bottom half of the page includes a 3” X 9” banner with details of package at Atlantis, Paradise Island, followed by three 3” X 3” boxes featuring in bold print, Orlando, Dominican Republic and Barbados. Wording in the Barbados box is “Barbados – Steeped in history, yet offering plenty of comforts like island-wide wi-fi and culinary adventures. And if you like Barbados, you might also like Cancun, Negril and St. Martin/St Maarten”. Who the h… authorized or approved that language?
The page 1 article in today’s Toronto Star Travel section features Antigua. The Travel Rewards section in today’s Globe & Mail includes a full page Air Canada Vacations ad for Sandals and Beaches Resorts. Nowhere in either paper is there any mention of Barbados. If Barbados is getting the same amount of exposure in London, New York et al as in Toronto, it will be difficult to keep the decline in tourism to 9% When I started to draft this on September 18, I had included the following
“If this withering performance were in the corporate world, heads would roll at BTA; and as the saying goes “A fish dies from the head down” Clearly there is a very serious need for change”. So now who will be replacement CEO; A friend of Freundel, or someone from St Lucia, Jamaica, UK, USA, Canada – or dare I say Sandals?
One last thought. Barbados needs to fill those 400 rooms at the now vacated Village. I don’t know why Sandals was rebuffed in an earlier attempt to set up shop in Barbados; but these are different times. Perhaps it is time the government change its old ways of doing business and revisit that decision. The awards they receive suggest Sandals is good at what it does. It fills airplanes and employs people. It is probably too late to bring that property up to Sandals standards for this winter, but the powers that be should seriously consider Sandals as the long-term answer to that urgent need.