If you took a straw poll asking who is the most respected broadcasting source, I am sure that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) would be up there, probably at the top of the list. Therefore if a seasoned producer from that esteemed organisation, filmed and presented a professionally made short video, portraying Barbados from a very unusual perspective, wouldn’t it be of interest? Apparently, not, because our national marketing organisation didn’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of this, and other videos submitted.
I cannot recall just how many times I have heard this from various people, over the years and it graphically reminds me of one of my own personal experiences. I am not going to indicate exactly the year it happened, as the then CEO has moved on, hopefully to other avenues where his skills can be better exploited.
Entirely on my own volition and expense, I travelled down to Brazil for a week, flying from Bridgetown to Paramaribo (Surinam), Cayenne (French Guyana) and then Belem, with SLM Airways. I met with senior executives of the airline and METS, the long established travel organisation, who were both keen to grow a route between Belem and Barbados, which is only 1,258 miles, or a flying time of around two and a half hours. Then with their representatives in Brazil, major tour operators, travel agents and even the head of what is now Belemtur, the tourism marketing agency of Para State. At that time, even with over 20 connecting city possibilities to other Brazilian cities, a resident population of around 7.5 million people within close proximity of Belem airport, it was still critical to view it as a holistic approach to what was deemed then, a new emerging market.
We also carefully looked at the incredible agro-processing sector in North Brazil, because airfreight charges could play a vital role in the economics of the route. I wrote a detailed report, based on my meetings, offering suggestions on how ‘we’ could possibly implement such a plan and hand-delivered it to the Harbour Road, BTA offices. I also discussed my findings with the Brazilian Ambassador to Barbados at that time, who expressed enormous interest. Weeks went by, with at no time receiving any acknowledgement of the evaluation , until one evening, while attending one of the many ‘cocktail’ parties. Also present was the BTA CEO/President, and I shall always remember his response, when asking if he had seen my detailed observations. To this day, it frankly still shocks me. ‘Well we can’t respond to everything, you know’.
Even with a staff compliment of over 130 persons, I suppose he was right. But I wonder just how many other enthusiastic persons, with ideas and concepts they feel have merit, are just left disillusioned and their time has been wasted. There appears to have been a notable increase in the number of visitors commenting on our tourism product and performance in the local press recently and through the various social media sites.
If ‘we’ plan to stay in the tourism business, it is absolutely critical that we respond in a timely manner. Otherwise, even seasoned visitors may just get the impression that we do not truly value their business and move on to one of the very many other destinations on offer.