Tourism officials remain loyal to the US market but open to other opportunities
Barbados has no plans to stop courting travelers from the United States in favor of trying to attract more visitors from the growing Latin American market.
But recognizing the potential of this source market, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Managing Director Dr. Jens Thraenhart said visitors from this country could be targeted to fill the gaps left during the low season.
“I think these other source markets may be looking at different products and experiences than the traditional source markets that come in the winter…. So I think there’s definitely potential there,” he said. Barbados TODAY during the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace held this week in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“There are a lot of opportunities, especially in what we call the low season because I think what we’re trying to do – and the potential is there – is to really do [Barbados] an all-season destination, and we’re looking at source markets like South America, or even Africa or parts of Europe.
Thraenhart said air travel is a big factor and Copa Airlines flights from Panama, which began mid-year, served as a “great connection” to South America.
He added that BTMI’s director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Corey Garrett, had worked very hard to penetrate this market.
However, the BTMI boss stressed that the US market will remain a major focus for the island.
“The United States I think is a huge potential market and I think we have good air travel from the United States that can be strengthened and there’s a lot of talk about that,” he said. declared.
He was talking to Barbados TODAY after Olivier Ponti, Vice President, Insights at ForwardKeys, CHTA’s data partner, suggested that while the United States was leading the region’s tourism recovery, it was time for Caribbean countries to tap into the Latin American market which had significant potential.
Ponti said this was particularly crucial given that source markets in Europe, while still important, were facing recession and feeling the shock waves of the Russian-Ukrainian war which, in turn, was having a negative impact on travel demand.
“Latin America is a great business opportunity for the Caribbean,” Ponti told a CHTA press conference at the 40th Caribbean Travel Market, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region.
He suggested that the latest statistics indicated huge potential in the Latin American market, and tapping into this segment rather than relying solely on traditional source markets could help the regional tourism sector’s efforts to build resilience.
“It’s always good not to put all your eggs in one basket. We’ve seen that the United States and Canada provide the bulk of visitors to the Caribbean, so those markets are, of course, extremely important, but it’s also very important to start diversifying your home markets,” said he declared.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig expressed a similar view.
She also noted that the Dominican Republic, Curacao and Aruba are targeting this market heavily and seeing the returns.
Madden-Greig previously reported that Latin American countries were among the fastest growing source markets for premium class arrivals.
She revealed that premium class arrivals had seen a 27% increase compared to 2019 pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, while economy class travel had increased by only 1%, indicating that wealthier travelers came to the Caribbean. The fastest growing origin markets for premium class travel were Argentina and Brazil, which grew by 154% and 137%, respectively.
Two other South American countries, Chile and Colombia, were also in the top 10, ranking sixth and eighth, with increases of 26% and 8%, respectively.