Barbados’ newly installed Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill has hit the ground running. After participating in World Travel Market 2022 in London last week, Gooding-Edghill engaged with cruise industry partners as he and other Barbados stakeholders met with representatives from Royal Caribbean Group and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) in Miami and had much to share about the island’s plans and outlook for its tourism product.
In an interview featured by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, he shared positive news related to the response from Barbados' travel partners, including tour operators, travel advisors and airline partners, as well as new investment opportunities and strong health safety measures and policies.
“The good news is that our airline partners are increasing airlift to Barbados. That is a welcome accomplishment for us,” said Minister Gooding-Edghill, who expressed appreciation for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic for their strong support in resuming flights to the eastern Caribbean destination as soon as possible after the easing of COVID-related restrictions.
“So, we had to come here (World Travel Market), continue our engagement with them and certainly as we continue those discussions, we are also pleased that Virgin will continue with Manchester service for the winter period. We are also delighted that British Airways will also continue with the number of flights that they have and that again is bringing additional airlift to Barbados,” the Minister noted.
As the winter travel season approaches, Gooding-Edghill believes Barbados’ strong tourism product, especially its Welcome Stamp program, which he noted has resulted in repeat visitations by travelers, and its culinary offerings will be key differentiators in attracting winter-weary visitors to the island.
Professional training and development initiatives through The Hospitality Institute have also played a role in building and strengthening employment opportunities in the tourism sector.
Gooding-Edghill, who is the former Minister of Health, also noted that promoting opportunities for visitors to get a taste of local culture and cuisine through events such as Oistins Fish Fry is also having positive outcomes.
“Oistins has become a landmark tradition. It’s hugely popular with our visitors. We recently had a food and rum festival in Barbados. Oistins was on the calendar and that was a hit with the customers. So, it’s an opportunity to see local fish vendors at work, an opportunity for us to associate with the fishermen, understand the culture. It’s also community-centred where you have people from the community working at Oistins, mingling with other members of the community and also visitors,” the Minister said, welcoming one and all to taste the true Bajan experience.