Barbados is making its mark as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) destination, attracting new business for the industry and the Association's members.
Chairman of the BHTA's MICE Product Club, Anderson Daniel, explained that years of promoting this aspect of Barbados's tourism product is finally paying off for the country: "More and more buyers/meeting planners are now seeing Barbados as a MICE destination.
"The Canadian market is growing and now that we have the United States of America's (USA) elections behind us, we are seeing an increase in bookings for incentives groups.This is not just Barbados, but it is global, as the incentive market has rebounded by almost 65 percent over the last yaer.
"The Groups are out there and they are travelling and they see Barbados as a perfect destination. There is even interest from the United Kingdom (UK) even though this market has fallen off a bit, it is still there," Daniel said,
He added that participation in three major trade shows over the past few months, IMEX America and AIBTM both in the United States and IncentiveWorks in Canada, have also assisted in pushng business in this area:
"IMEX America was phenomal for MICE this year. There were over 2,400 buyers and over 50 percent of them were interested in Caribbean. Based on the feedback and statistics from the members who attended, the projected business attracted for 2013 at this show alone is over Bds$6 million.
"There was also great interest at IncentiveWorks and many of the buyers attended specifically for information on Barbados. One buyer came directly to the show after watching the Rihanna interview with Oprah and has booked a group for 2013, which 68 rooms at Tamarind."
Daniel explained that it was results like these that made it imperative fro Barbados to maintain its presence at these and similar shows: "Not only do they provide the ideal avenue for us to get the Barbados brand out there and promote the island's MICE products but we also have to be very cognisant of the emerging competition from our Caribbean neighbours.
"We are now seeing many other islands in the region going after this market for the first time. At IMEX alone there were 48 participating countries and 24 of them were from the Caribbean. Bermuda has never done it before and they were there and we are also seeing countries like St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Anguilla, Grenada, Antigua and even Trinidad and Tobago, all now going after this business."