The Government of Barbados has announced a tourism recovery plan as the island seeks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was disclosed by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Lisa Cummins as she addressed the third quarterly general meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), on Wednesday.
Under the theme Adapting to the Changing Tourism Landscape – Cummins said part of the forward planning is for the establishment of private hanger services and an overall new business strategy at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) to attract new business, increase air traffic and “benefit from the high-end luxury segment”.
She explained that in order to position Bridgetown as the southern hub for air travel, there would be deepening and expansion of partnerships and relationships in existing markets, as well as the formation of new partnerships in new markets.
The tourism minister also said the island was on its way to becoming a cruise hub and the local authorities are currently in negotiation with cruise line partners to make Barbados a homeport for traffic in the southern Caribbean.
She added, that new itineraries have been developed that would see cruises beginning and ending in Barbados when they resume.
“More importantly for the hotel sector, we have integrated a pre-and post-stay into the marketing efforts around that new product that we are negotiating.”
A major part of the overall tourism recovery plan will be the forecasting of international air traffic and trends in order to come up with models for worst- and best-case scenarios so that proactive steps could be taken.
Meanwhile, the authorities are looking at the possibility of implementing a test before departure initiative with the Heathrow Airport that would see travellers coming from London receiving a test for COVID-19 just prior to boarding their flight to Barbados.
Cummins said her ministry has been having regular meetings with airline partners, airport representatives and other stakeholders to find ways of limiting transmission of the COVID-19 illness during travel.
“Aside from the PCR testing and efforts being made here in the ministry, we will be having a meeting either Tuesday or Wednesday with Heathrow International’s leadership. I have reached out to Heathrow International and we have had a good preliminary meeting with their leadership and with their COVID-19 response task force and they are working with us to pilot a model which has already been implemented with the UAE, where they have a facility on-site at Heathrow international,” said Cummins.
“You now know that there are airlift coming out of Heathrow on British Airways and we are looking to see if we can collaborate with them to have that rapid testing – if it is so approved by our Ministry of Health and is consistent with the respective World Health Organisation standards, – at the point of origin,” she explained.
Cummins said this would address issues relating to confidence among potential travellers to Barbados.
“If we are able to successfully get this partnership with Heathrow and then roll it out with Gatwick and then simultaneously we are also able to open up opportunities to partner with the other gateways from which visitors are arriving, then we would have hopefully what we expect to be something significant that gives confidence in travel to persons who are flying into Barbados,” she said.