Having declared aspirations to become the Southern Caribbean’s logistics hub, the Barbados Government has also set its sights on transforming the island into a tourism hub.
Just recently, on September 11, 2020, the country’s Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins disclosed that her ministry and a team of agencies under its umbrella had embarked on building out an economic development model that would make Barbados a tourism hub.
Among the agencies that will be a part of this process are Caribbean Aircraft Handling and the Civil Aviation Department.
“How are we going to be refashioning and remodelling a Caribbean aircraft handling?” she asked while speaking at a breakfast meeting that welcomed the island’s partnership with interCaribbean Airways.
“They (agencies) are responsible for regulatory management; they are developing their relationships obviously with InterCaribbean, having already created a Southern and Eastern hub from here in Barbados [and] out of Turks & Caicos,” Cummins added.
She further pointed out that the team at the ministry were working in collaboration with Barbados Tourism and Marketing Inc and airline partners to develop a model that would drive the development on the aviation and international transportation sectors, which would create opportunities in tourism.
“Now what does that mean for all of you? It means that we open new gateways, as we find new partners, as we open new routes and as we bring new international parties to the table and allow them to participate in what is going to be hard to beat for anywhere else. All the downstream services benefit,” Cummins stated, adding that restaurants and taxi services stand to benefit.
In addition, the tourism minister said that the partnership with interCaribbean would catalyse investments in flight maintenance, private aircraft services, flight school training, and the development of new skills and services that create employment opportunities for Barbadians.
“And, we have the Grantley Adams International Airport, as well, and a key element now, in discussion with Grantley Adams International Airport, is what will a new-look GAIA reflect for Barbados that will make us hard to beat,” Cummins disclosed
To this end, she recently told members of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association that plans were afoot to develop hanger services for private planes and an overall new business strategy for Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA). By doing so, the airport would attract new business and increase air traffic so that the island could “benefit from the high-end luxury segment” of the travel market.
As part of efforts to position GAIA as an aviation hub, as well as increase visitor arrivals, the tourism ministry is negotiating with travel partners to integrate pre- and post-flight hotel stays for visitors in transit to other Eastern Caribbean destinations.
Likewise, the Government is encouraging stakeholders in the local hotel sector to include pre- and post-cruise accommodations as part of their services.
More importantly, Cummins revealed that her ministry was in negotiations with cruise lines to develop itineraries that began and/or ended in Barbados, thus making the country “the homeport for traffic in the southern Caribbean”.
“We have begun a considerable body of work which has brought in the Central Bank of Barbados, The University of the West Indies using big data and analytics, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Financial Corporation of the World Bank along with the national tourism programme of the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, supported by BTMI,” Cummins told members of the BHTA.
In relation to the BTMI, the minister outlined that the Government will be “redesigning” the private-public sector partnership approach of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) so that, following the pandemic, it would emerge as a marketing institution “that positions our destination, attractions, our accommodation sector and all that Barbados has to offer on the international stage in a completely reimagined and competitive way”.
Overall, the aim is to re-emerge from the COVID-19 experience “with a tourism product that has been transformed,” and that will make Barbados “far more effective, efficient and competitive” than before, the Senator shared.