Adrian Loveridge Column – Time to re-Discover
Websites and various other social media outlets have for so long become an indisputable and critical marketing tool in all respects, but especially for luring potential first time visitors to us as a destination.
It was therefore very surprising, when considering the vast resources committed to our national promotional agency, that even with a cursory viewing of www.visitbarbdos.org at least 6 named restaurant listed are no longer in business, including those that have been closed for a very long time.
I am not trying to attribute total blame to any one agency, because I firmly believe those in the private sector, including any trade bodies or associations, are equally responsible for ensuring both closing and newly opened establishments are accurately listed and highlighted with quality and compelling images.
Also in the restaurant section, two catamaran operators are displayed which defy any logic for their presence.
If we are going to maintain what is often referred to as our ‘iconic’ destination status, attention to detail, is not some aspirational mission statement, it goes with the territory.
In the case of those start-up additions to our already incredible myriad of eating choices that have not yet ensured they are included on the national website, you have to ask why. Do they not feel sufficiently part of our overall marketing efforts?
The current administration indicated some time ago that their intention was to at least partially ‘privatise’ the existing Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. As a lifelong aspiring entrepreneur functioning in the commercial world of reality, this intent appears to make absolute sense. But only if there is a truly cooperative and fully participating platform.
The reason for raising this subject and especially restaurants is our ongoing challenge to secure funding for the continuation of the re-DISCOVER (www.re-discover.com) initiative. Whilst it is now in its 18th year of operation having clearly demonstrated a historical high level of partner participation, it remains a constant battle to adequately meet running costs and the resources essential to grow the programme.
So many other sectors directly benefit from this enterprise, including our credit and debit card issuing banks, wine and food distributors and not least Government through increased VAT, Product Development Levy together with both employee and employer NIS contributions, Income taxes through higher volume and employment generation, maybe they want to step up?
As Government is now collecting a bevy of recently imposed additional taxes and levies there must be some clear transparency, that at least a proportion of these are spent on their stated purpose where both the tourism industry and our visitors can easily follow and track the possible benefits.