Friday, April 19, 2024

TOURISM MATTERS: Dragging feet on re-Discover show

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By now, much of our energy would be going into fine tuning the annual re-Discover The Caribbean Show, which usually takes place in late April.
Just in time for the longer and leaner eight summer month tourism season.
Sadly, unless a major sponsor comes forward, it will not take place this year and this may prove to be one of the biggest mistakes ever.
The Barbados Tourism Authority lost interest in what would have been the eighth annual show by reducing their already limited financial support and not even being prepared to man a stand for the two-day event.
This despite a complement of over 130 staff members and the enthusiastic support in the past by the current Minister of Tourism.
In fact, before entering office, he won and enjoyed one of the spectacular prizes donated by our many exhibitors.  
It became ever more difficult to explain to the 20 other participating Caribbean countries, who were willing and able to send a delegation, often at considerable cost, when the national marketing agency of the host country was half-heartedly supporting the endeavour.
If three of our main traditional markets, Britain, Canada and the United States, fail to show some sign of growth during this summer, it will be largely down to the extra air capacity being generated by REDjet within the region to give any hope of maintaining visitor arrival numbers this year.
The event itself brought in over 400 overseas delegates annually who all needed hotel accommodation, with secondary spending on meals, taxi transfers, car rentals and so on.
Many extended their stay to take in some of our tourism offerings and/or visit travel agents. Even at the height of their support, the BTA cost contribution was under BDS$60 per delegate, or less than the departure tax each attendee would have paid, let alone VAT and taxes collected on other goods and services.
We calculate each overseas exhibitor stayed an average of 4.4 nights and spent around US$1 200, so it delivered a 40:1 return on investment (ROI).
Putting that in perspective, the Best Of Barbados (BOB) programme attracted a direct subsidy of up to BDS$600 per person, and that’s even before the additional costs to promote it were taken into account.
The lead-in BOB package price including flights and seven nights’ accommodation was as low as US$459.
Analyzed another way, when you compare the same ROI that re-Discover delivered to the quoted $4 million Rihanna concert, it would have produced $160 million in tourism revenue, or the overall BTA annual budget, a staggering $3.76 billion.
I have no doubt those managing REDjet, fully understand the critical importance of filling their aircraft in both directions. And that was always a considerable component part of the motivation behind the show concept.
Now that the BHTA’s Staycation website is linked to that of REDjet, the lower fares offered by the carrier makes it the perfect match for other Caribbean territories to take full advantage.
With the end of what hopefully was the more lucrative winter season less than a month away, the Olympics on the horizon and increased APD levels, there is seemingly no national marketing initiative on the horizon.
It appears again that it is going to result in some sort of knee-jerk retroactive response, maybe launched so close to the sell-by date that any effect would be limited. 

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