Even in ideal times, the job of Chief Executive Officer of your national tourism marketing agency must be one of the most challenging positions. Compound this with perhaps the worst case fiscal scenario that the country has ever experienced, and it could not have been made any easier.
As if already navigating through the inevitable party politics and the smattering of self-interested egos isn’t a herculean task in itself, while also being severely hampered with budget restraints and settlement delays. Yet knowing at the same time, tourism is the only sector substantial enough to have any hope of returning the country to economic and employment stability.
It is not a task for the weak or indecisive.
So, as William ‘Billy’ Griffith prepares to demit office at the end of December, we owe him our thanks for guiding the industry through one of our most uncertain times in our recent history. Of course, it is rarely down to any one person to determine success, but a critical component is the ability to surround your efforts, with people who can help make it happen.
In the interests of factual reporting and accuracy, I asked Mr. Griffith to respond to which particular areas he made his mark since joining the then Barbados Tourism Authority in 2014 and list them as follows:
- Expedia Caribbean Destination of the Year 2015
- Caribbean Journal Destination of the Year 2015
- Travel Bulletin Star Awards – Best winter destination 2017
- Barbados consistently rated in the #5 most popular destinations by visitor survey on Trip Advisor
- DSI – Destination Satisfaction Index – Best Destination in the World -2017 for overall satisfaction
- Carib Journal Tourism Director of the Year 2019
- Establishment of a new European division
- Creation of a new marketing department with a Director of Marketing; Marketing Manager; Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager
- 30 percent increase in visitor arrivals to Barbados to an all-time record of 682,000 in 2018. Trending towards another record year and surpassing 700,000 stay-over visitors for the very first time.
- Growth in air capacity to the island by 22 per cent during the same period. Gains in all three major markets of USA, UK and Canada. Oversaw high profile partnerships on behalf of the BTMI that led to the introduction of new flights to the island including COPA Airlines from Panama and Lufthansa direct service from Frankfurt.
- Negotiated several macro challenges, chickengunya, zika, sewage issues, travel warnings in USA, UK and Canada, Brexit fears, Thomas Cook collapse.
- Designated successful themed ’Year of Sports’; Year of Culinary Experiences’; ‘Year of Wellness and Soft Adventure’ in the past three years.
- Newly constituted marketing department who created Brilliant Barbados series of partner tactical promotions.
- Revived the struggling Run Barbados event which was initially cancelled in 2014 and now receives over 1400 visitor athletes.
- Food and Rum Festival just culminated its10th year, having been rebranded in 2017.
- Growth in total visitor expenditure, or spend, (according to CTO) from US$836 million in 2014 to US$1.122 billion in 2018 or 34 per cent in the corresponding period.
An enviable and laudable record!
Let us hope us hope his replacement will be chosen on proven past achievement and merit and not on their political connections.
Wishing ‘Billy’ all the very best in his next venture.