Barbados aims to make a comeback on the German market with more marketing, more flights, a diverse mix of hotels and a wide range of activities for holidaymakers, the recent fvw workshop showed.
The Caribbean island has lost popularity among German tourists in recent years, falling to just 10,700 arrivals in 2018. The overwhelming majority of the 680,000 international tourists last year came from just three English-speaking countries: the UK (33%), the USA (30%) and Canada (18%).
But Barbados is now making a big push to diversify its source markets, and in particular to win more German tourists and return to the figures of the 1990s when some 28,000 Germans used to holiday on the island each year.
“Barbados has a good image in Germany and we want to widen our source markets,” explained Billy Griffith, CEO of Barbados Tourism Marketing, at the fvw workshop in the Hilton Resort, which was attended by some 35 German travel agents and tourism managers along with 60 hoteliers and various suppliers. The island offers a wide mix of hotels, from all-inclusive to small boutique properties, “great leisure activities” and the chance to experience a diverse landscape and culture, he pointed out.
A major step forward will come this autumn with the start of three weekly nonstop Lufthansa flights with 310-seat Airbus A330s from Frankfurt to the capital, Bridgetown, which will be operated by Eurowings. “We see potential from Germany and neighbouring countries with our feeder network to our Frankfurt hub,” said Gabriela Ahrens, Lufthansa’s leisure travel sales manager.
At present, Condor is the only German airline flying to the island, with weekly services in the summer and twice-weekly in the winter with a 245-seat B767-300. But Paul Schwaiger, the carrier’s commercial director, emphasised: “We are not interested in a price war. We want sustainable business and a stable flight schedule that our partners can rely on.”
Barbados will take advantage of the expanded flight capacity with a major marketing campaign in Germany this autumn. There will be a roadshow for German travel agents in September, said Anita Nightingale, who heads the Europe office in Brussels. “We definitely want German holidaymakers,” she emphasised to the fvw workshop participants.
One clear competitive advantage for the island in comparison to big destinations in the Caribbean such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba is its broad mix of hotels, including many small family-run boutique hotels, mid-market properties and five-star resorts offering all-inclusive packages. “Keep this mix to differentiate yourselves from other destinations,” recommended Matthias Lange, managing director of German tourism market research company TrevoTrend.
Many travel agents and tour operator managers such as Christian Schütte from DER Touristik and Hendrik Meyer from Windrose agreed that the island’s diversity is a major sales argument along with the high level of security that enables tourists to explore the island freely and visit local restaurants, bars and sights on their own. These factors help to compensate for the relatively high prices compared to other Caribbean destinations, they commented.
Apart from the one-day conference, the 35 German travel agents inspected a number of hotels, toured local attractions and explored the island during their one-week stay. The fvw workshop was supported by the Barbados tourism office, Condor and other partners.
Click on the image gallery below to see a selection of pictures from fvw’s Barbados workshop.