Global luxury travel network Virtuoso named Petra Roach, U.S. Director of Barbados Tourism Marking Inc. (BTMI), winner of this year’s Ambassador of the Year award at the 30th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference. Petra received the award during the Allied Partners Luncheon.
"As the first person from the Caribbean to receive this prestigious award, we continue to be amazed by Petra's pioneering spirit, leadership and determination to see Barbados reach new heights," said Albert Herrera, senior vice president, global product partnerships at Virtuoso, in. a written release. "Petra is a true trailblazer in luxury travel, and continues to inspire the Virtuoso network of advisors by way of her exemplary product knowledge, commitment to our organizations core values and energized personality."
“I still consider myself a ‘newbie’ in the USA market, so to be recognized by the leader in luxury travel is an honor for which I am truly appreciative,” said Roach. “I have a small but exceptional team with whom I work and whose dedication and commitment is a constant inspiration to me.”
In 2017, Barbados saw its highest visitation numbers from the U.S., with nearly 189,000 arrivals, besting the island’s previous U.S. record of 175,093 set in 1987. It also saw a year-over-year growth of 11.7 percent, making it the top growth market of all regions. In the past year, Barbados has seen significant growth with increased airlift via American Airlines and JetBlue, a plethora of new and refurbished hotels and properties – including the new Sandals Royal Barbados – and the continuation of its partnership with Virtuoso as a diamond sponsor. Out of 144 countries ranked, Barbados was also named the No. 1 destination in the world for visitor satisfaction and named the Americas winner for accommodation on the 2018 Destination Satisfaction Index (DSI).
Earlier in the year, Roach spoke with Travel Agent about how Barbados is doing so well. “As a boutique destination, we’ve recognized that out of 300 million Americans, we are aiming to reach a very small percentage,” she said. “We don’t want to be everything to everyone, so we have been bold and brave and not shy about saying that we are not mass tourism.
In addition to the above stats, Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport welcomed 663,441 visitor arrivals, which was 31,308 more than 2016 and the Bridgetown Port Inc. recorded 818,752 cruise arrivals, topping the previous year’s 725,020.
While the U.S. trailed the U.K. as the highest producer of business, it still grew by 11.7 percent in 2017 over 2016.
Roach had also told Travel Agent that Barbados was able to strengthen its advisor relationships at Virtuoso Travel Week in 2017. We expect this year’s version will have at least as positive of an effect.