Finance Minister, Chris Sinckler (right) greets IDB Executive Director for Brazil and Suriname, Ricardo Carneiro while Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy looks on. (C Pitt/BGIS)
By Sharon Austin
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados is looking at a new marketing initiative to utilise the resources of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to strengthen its foray into Brazil as it attempts to attract more tourists to the island.
This disclosure came recently from minister of finance and economic affairs, Christopher Sinckler, during a meeting with the minister of tourism and international transport, Richard Sealy; senior government officials and a team from the IDB, headed by executive director for Brazil and Suriname, Ricardo Carneiro, to sensitise them about the programme.
Sinckler said: “We have been working with GOL Airlines out of Brazil for the past four years and it has met with moderate success. The IDB staff and others have looked at this new tourism initiative and seen that there is potential for it to grow even further and to include other airlines.”
He pointed out that the Brazilian market was seen as one of the strongest emerging markets in the world in terms of its economy and tourism.
“A high percentage of Brazilians travel, but a lot of that traffic goes to the United States and a very small part of it comes to this region. Our hope is to bring more of it here, and in so doing, diversify our tourism source market -- the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada... This initiative will give us better access to the Brazilian market and it will open up a market in South America and in Latin America,” he stated.
The minister further disclosed that a study, sponsored by the IDB and conducted by a Brazilian firm, had identified various market segmentation issues in relation to the persons and cities which should be targeted, among others.
“Now that we have that study at our disposal and we know about Barbados’ product and service as offered internationally, we believe we have all of the key elements in place to take this programme forward. We believe that through collaborative efforts with our ministry of finance, ministry of tourism, BTA and the IDB’s technical staff, we are just about ready to launch this programme,” he stressed.
Sinckler explained that this was one of the initiatives coming out of the Barbados country strategy programme for 2014-2018 and said it had been identified for early disbursement.
He noted that the technocrats would meet shortly to finalise the approach so it could be submitted to the IDB board for approval, and he expressed optimism that it would be completed within the next few months.
Sealy said he embraced the decision of the IDB to get directly involved in a tourism-related initiative, saying it had the potential to provide serious economic returns that could be felt at every level in Barbados.
“It is clear that the average spend of the Brazilians is greater than any of our other source markets… This project, in my view, will bring real benefit on the ground and there is definitely a need for it,” he contended.
Sealy expressed the view that Barbados' tourism product was poised for take-off, but needed the resource input, and suggested that the IDB could give the required technical support.
Carneiro, who is from Brazil, expressed the strong interest of his country in expanding its engagement with Barbados and opined that the proposed tourism project with the IDB would be an excellent opportunity to do so.
The director stated: "The unique characteristics of Barbados means that the project should target the more sophisticated Brazilian tourists. This will require marketing to that group in Brazil. The work already done by the Bank has confirmed that there is ample interest in Barbados' tourism product among the target group."