From the media release following the launch of the 2012 Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival, it was heartwarming to read the president of the Barbados Tourism Authority quote that the event had “attracted more than 1,800 tourists last year and 60 international journalists”.
During the entire month of November 2011 a total of 47,208* long stay visitors, across all source markets were recorded, which represented an increase of 5.3 percent* over the previous year.
So, if you divide that number into an average stay of 7 nights, that means that nearly one in six of those visitors during the week of the festival, journeyed to Barbados specifically for this event.
Basing the accommodation segment on two persons sharing one room, that’s over 6,300 occupied room nights during a month which is traditionally challenging.
Again, it demonstrates the importance of niches and the value of destination coverage that those invited journalists can bring us.
A number of videos were also produced and a particular favourite of mine was made by the South African based company, Sand Castle Studios TV.
Despite the video being posted on YouTube in March of this year, it hasn’t yet received the viewership volume that I believe it deserves.
Perhaps the tourism policymakers can address that, as it certainly could be used as a powerful tool to help drive numbers.
Hopefully, our wide range of restaurants will work together with the wine suppliers that week to offer a value-menu, rather like the re-DISCOVER programme that operated so successfully for many years. Individual participating establishments all offered a three-course dinner with a half bottle of wine (per person) for BDS$99. This also gave such a tremendous opportunity to highlight locally available food.
It might also at least go partially the way to get the message across to our visitors and locals alike that eating out can be more affordable.
Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy stated, “The event could eventually be one of the biggest foreign exchange generators for Barbados,” and in his opinion, “the potential is there and the sky is the limit in terms of where the Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival could be in the next 10 years.”
I am sure many agree, but that is where I found another part of the media release
puzzling, again quoting verbatim, “The BTA said it will be heavily marketing the festival in the US, which is one of the island’s major source markets.”
This implies that the event will not also be “heavily” marketed in other important areas like the UK and Canada, our first and fourth largest origin of visitors and developing markets like Brazil.
I cannot imagine that they do not have equal percentages of ‘foodies’.
In fact, a not dissimilar annual event called Foodies Festival takes place in seven cities across Britain to maximise interest and attendance.
It also allows manufacturers of all sizes the opportunity to display and sell a wide range of edible products, including pepper sauce, cheeses, local wines and homemade ice creams.
If this has not already been considered, perhaps the concept could be incorporated in the new Sizzle Street event taking place in Queens Park.