In a recent newspaper article entitled ‘Tourism Hope from Canada’ written by Gercine Carter, the outgoing Canadian High Commissioner for Barbados, Ruth Archibald, commented that she thought ‘there is lots of opportunity for continued growth’ out of that market. Many of us would agree with her, especially when she ‘suggested that there was even more room for expansion in Western Canada’. I immediately thought of my early travel industry years, almost four decades ago in Winnipeg, having been there partially during the pioneering days of Wardair.
In 1984, William Canning, directed what I consider a truly inspirational documentary for the National Film Board of Canada, called simply, Max Ward. Part of it was shot in Barbados and if you get the opportunity to view the programme, please note particularly the Merrymen, Plantation dancers and an interview with the late Sir Harold St. John. What it graphically brought back, was all that time ago, is that we had truly visionary leaders in this industry and how the decisions that they bravely took, changed our lives forever. Max, along with a rare breed of innovative aviation entrepreneurs like Sir Freddy Laker, fought long and hard for airline deregulation and when it finally came about, nothing would be quite the same in tourism ever again.
See related links to show tourism arrivals down 12% despite of Crop Over:
All these years later, one wonders if ‘we’ have not lost some of the goals or objectives that took us to, what has now become Barbados’s single largest foreign currency earner. If even back then, Wardair were capable of filling a 456 seat B747 aircraft direct from Winnipeg, Edmonton or Calgary, to Barbados, so why can’t we now? In fact, if anything it has become a lot easier, because today we have state-of-the-art, smaller capacity extended range planes with one third of the jumbo’s capacity, so the potential financial risk is a lot less. Direct flights from the prairies are also attractive in several other ways. Longer winters and the wealth created from tar sands, potash and the agricultural industries providing people with the time and financial means to travel.
The department of Natural Resources stated that ‘In 2011, potash was again Canada’s top ranking commodity by volume of production with shipments totalling CAD$8 billion’ and ‘volumes reached a new historical record, up 13.5 per cent compared to 2010’. Grain prices are hitting record highs as crop failures ripple around the globe and are likely to remain strong for at least three more years. The massive drought in the United States, compounded by a shortage of rain that has damaged wheat crops in Russia, Ukraine and Kazkhstan. ‘Canadian farmers, stand to benefit enormously as grain supplies teeter on the verge of disaster’ according to the Globe and Mail. And thirdly, its easy to forget that Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world and 97 per cent of these reserves are in the oil sands.
Fort McMurray, considered the centre of this industry now boasts an average annual household income of over CAD$169,000. So its not surprising that Ms. Archibald has highlighted the potential of this part of Canada. More than anything, it gives us the possibility to extend our peak and most profitable season by appealing to sectors of the economy that have been largely untouched by a global recession.
Bearing all these factors in mind, it is therefore somewhat bewildering that the contract for the single BTA marketing executive in western Canada is not being renewed, and I think we should be told why?
It would be useful to find why the BTA asset in Western Canada was released. Also those July August numbers should be a source of concern. What is the action plan?
before submitting the column, I emailed both Gail Quinn, the BTA marketing executive in Western Canada and Cheryl Carter, the BTA head in Canada to clarify the situation, but as so often is the case, did not receive a response.
It is clear, at least to me, that many within the BTA and MOT do not feel they have any obligation to respond to the taxpayers.
The arrival figures for July and August, often deemed as the months of hope
and expectation in a long summer season are alarming, and I doubt that September, October and November are going to show any improvement.
The flight I was on from Miami this Tuesday was barely 50 per cent full and if you took away returning nationals, it is even more depressing.
We HAVE a serious problem and I cannot see that it is being addressed at all. To have and execute a plan, you need people in place that understand the industry and its current challenges.
Just back from a week in Costa Rica. Planes full, hotels and car rental companies busy and their main market is the US.
I also understand the contract with the PR company in Canada (Weber Shandwick) has not been renewed in September. It is not clear whether a new company has been appointed or if the BTA is currently without any professional public relations representation in Canada.
With reduced budget spending, the need for good PR is absolutely fundamental and critical to maximise media exposure and market awareness. ANY destination that thinks it can do without effective PR is living in cloud cuckoo land.
Barbados/BTA are largely invisible in the Toronto media.
Last week I did not see one mention of Barbados or the BTA flying fish logo in the Star or Globe. And, with very few exceptions, that is the way it has been for the past several months.
But, I did see St. Lucia had separate full-page and a half-page ads promoting about 12 venues on that island, and heard a St, Lucia radio ad (first time I have heard that) last week.
Last Saturday Air Canada Vacations’s full page ad featured three Sandals Resorts in Jamaica, as well as Mexico, Cuba and D.R. resorts
Beaches/Sandals had its own a 3/4 page ad.
WestJet Vacations had a full page ad in the Globe, featuring Puerto Rico, Aruba and Antigua – and of course a Beaches/Sandals banner. In the Star Westjet had a 1/3 page ad featuring Las Vegas, Montego Bat and Antigua.
Bermuda had 1/2 page ads in both the Star and the Globe.
For some reason your submissions are routing to Spam. BU will investigate, it means you will have to alert BU by email if it continues.
Here is the link to Weber Shandwick:
Payback is a beach
There was a time when some big ups in Barbados did not want “nuh T shirt Tourists”. So the Canadians went where T shirts are welcomed.
Marketing Barbados as a Tourist destination has become a complex problem. The BTA has competent professionals but they do not seem to have the money to blitz North American like Butch Stewart and the Government of Jamaica.
Hoteliers and Restaurant owners in Barbados need to clean their establishments, make them appealing to their patrons and provide a memorable experience.That is the best way to market their businesses.
Why can’t a group of hotels in Barbados use their own money to advertise in major cities in Canada and the USA?
If many of them don’t have money to spruce up the plant where will they get money from to pool for marketing?
‘The Barbados Tourism Authority has been left to languish financially’
Accrding to Adrian: That’s Barbadian MILES Robertson on the piano.
5 million views so far and that’s before the film is released……….
Skyfall. 11.6 million views and counting. Set to become No.1 in the British charts tomorrow and destined to become the FIRST Bond theme EVER to become #1.