BARBADOS – As part of our ongoing coverage of the CTO Leadership Strategy Conference, Travel Agent was on hand for a press conference hosted by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy Friday morning and learned of the Barbados Tourism Authority’s plans to hold Travel Agent Festivals.
According to Sealy, the initiative aims at changing the whole dynamic of the traditional fam trip.
“We are in discussion with the chairman of the BTA to begin hosting travel agent festivals that will hopefully change the concept of fam trip because instead of getting agents from one specific market, these festivals will attract agents from all over the world,” he told Travel Agent.
The idea stemmed from the recent success of the island’s Mega Fam trip that saw 70 agents from the U.S. “They came not just from the tri-state area, but we had agents from Florida and Texas as well,” Sealy says, “and to have agents coming from different parts of the country is crucial to our success.”
Barbados saw a 19.6 increase from North America from January to September of last year to this year. In fact, Barbados saw an overall 4.1 percent increase in overall tourism from the same period compared to last year. Other partnerships, such as a three-year deal with the Miami Heat to hosted Barbados nights throughout the N.B.A. season also contributed to the increase. And, as Sealy, noted the deal with the Heat was a great investment since it was made before basketball star Lebron James signed with the team.
“That three-year contract was signed for about $200,000 and is now worth about $800,00 since the deal with Mr. James, so we truly benefited from that,” he says.
Another factor was the recently launched JetBlue flights into Barbados, which have brought in roughly 5,000 passengers since its launch last October.