Barbados : Tourism Insights

Travel Team
By Travel Team 8 Min Read

The key functions of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) are to promote, assist and facilitate the ongoing and efficient development of all forms of tourism on the island. BTMI designs and implements suitable marketing strategies for the effective promotion of the tourism industry and makes provision for adequate, safe and suitable air and sea passenger transport services to and from Barbados. 

Alongside this, the organisation aims to encourage the establishment of high-quality amenities and new facilities which are considered necessary for the total and complete enjoyment of Barbados as a tourist destination, whilst also aiming to carry out and collect a constant stream of market intelligence in order to inform the needs of the tourism industry moving forward.

In this interview with BTMI, we examine the company’s goals and visions for the future and discover in detail why Barbados is now considered a truly unmissable destination. Kyle Gittens, Marketing Manager for the organisation also describes to us the vast multitude of experiences and activities available for visitors to the bustling, vibrant island paradise, as well as digging deeper into the new trends currently transforming and influencing the tourism industry as a whole.


Why was Barbados Tourism Marketing founded and what was its initial vision?  

Kyle Gittens, Marketing Manager (KG): The BTMI serves to position Barbados as the Caribbean’s premier tourism destination through captivating marketing strategies. The BTMI prioritises a high-quality travel experience, through the provision of suitable transport services to and from Barbados for passengers travelling by either air or sea. With the holistic development of the industry in mind, the creative team executes thorough market research into the needs of the ideal traveller and gives special focus to ensure the island has the best amenities for an authentic and enjoyable Barbadian stay.  

The first positive attempt to organise tourism as a worthwhile industry and to promote Barbados as a winter resort came in 1932 when the Publicity Committee was formed. It was an association of Barbadian businessmen and hoteliers who, in conjunction with the government, underwrote the promotion of Barbados abroad. The committee also encouraged owners of hotels and restaurants to raise their standards and services.  

In 1958, in order to promote the tourist trade on a year-round basis the Barbados Tourist Board, a statutory body, was formed. The Board, with offices in London, New York and Toronto, has been carrying out its important tasks by advertising in overseas publications including North American and European prestige magazines. 

In 2014, the Barbados government announced its newest division of tourism affairs, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) – a bold new organisation focused on keeping the island top of mind in the dynamic and ever-changing tourism industry.

What are your organisation’s current goals?

(KG): Our vision sees Barbados elevated to the top of its capacity as a globally competitive, warm-weather destination, with tourism sustainably enhancing the quality of life of visitors and Barbadians together.  

How do you promote off-season travel?

(KG): We are showing the world that Barbados is indeed a 365-day destination. We have a list of events year-round that are held during the on-season and off-season to promote the destination. For instance, during the off-season we have our Crop Over Festival, which is held from July to August. This festival attracts people from all over the globe including celebrities like Lewis Hamilton and our very own national hero, Rihanna. We also have the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, which is hosted in October and in May there is Rally Barbados where drivers from all over the globe flock to the island to compete.   

Are there any interesting projects in the pipeline you wish to highlight?

(KG): Yes, we have a number of new and interesting projects in the pipeline and among these is the redevelopment of the historic Sam Lord’s Castle on the southeast coast of Barbados which will be a Wyndham Grand property soon, adding more than 400 rooms to our current room stock.   

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Barbados?  

(KG): Barbados is a diverse destination which offers myriad experiences for every type of traveller. The island is rich in cultural, heritage, sporting, culinary and eco experiences. As the culinary capital of the Caribbean, Barbados has over 400 restaurants and eateries for every foodie to try. Furthermore, it is the birthplace of rum so it’s home to the best rum punches and finest rum anywhere in the world.

Barbados is also a sporting destination and a great motorsport island, so there is a range of sporting activities available including karting, eco adventures, nature trails and more to explore. With the most scenic landscapes, Barbados is also the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway or a destination wedding. There’s something for everyone in Barbados.

(KG): One of the main trends that we are utilising to transform Barbados’ tourism industry is data. We are utilising the power of data to drive our marketing strategies and strategically engage with target audiences. Barbados Tourism Marketing is partnering with MasterCard International Inc. to be part of its Tourism Insights Tool Platform. Tourism Insights uses machine learning (ML) algorithms and human expertise to capture timely and useful data by MasterCard users, which is then analysed to help track trends and investigate emerging or growing markets. This can be used to increase visitor spend and gain an edge in the very competitive tourism industry. Barbados will be the first country in the Caribbean to adopt the Tourism Insight platform joining locations like Paris, London, Madrid, Seville, Greece, New York and Tokyo.   

Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Barbados?

(KG): In conclusion, we are extremely optimistic about the future of tourism in Barbados and building new partnerships in our source markets.

Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine