B2B MEETINGS, pg 8 HILTON BARBADOS RESORT
#FOOD&RUM TEASER, pg 11 HOLDERS POLO FIELD
PHOT OS INSID E! ON THE COVER: GUN HILL UNDER THE STARS, pg 4
AROUND BARBADOS, pg 14 NATIONAL MUSEUM OF PARLIAMENT AND HEROES GALLERY
A special message from the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI)
in participating tour operators’ learnings. Holiday makers’ habits continue to evolve with shifting economic climates and changing appetites; therefore, we anticipate that being able to connect local service providers with the agents who have a direct line of communication to potential visitors, and who create holiday packages, will be of invaluable benefit to all parties.
s the CEO of the BTMI, it is my pleasure to host another year of Connect Barbados. As we acknowledge the conference’s 12th year, I think that its long tenure is testament to the quality and pertinence of Connect Barbados. Predating the inception of the BTMI in 2014, this conference has a rich history of connecting tour operators from around the world with on-island service providers, in an intense yet enriching few days of reciprocal learning. Since 2014, we have enjoyed monumental growth in stay-over visitors to the island. Tour operators have been pivotal in driving our arrivals success in the past three years as they continue to play an integral role in delivering package holidays to the island. Connect Barbados seeks to provide them with the opportunity to learn more about and experience the latest product and service developments we have to offer. We also use this forum to thank local partners for the tremendous contribution they continue to make to the success of Barbados’ primary economic sector. One of the key features of Connect Barbados is that it facilitates a platform for us to share
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The conference is extremely timely as there is currently some socio-political uncertainty, especially in our major markets, and our tour operators’ feedback will help frame the marketing push for the upcoming summer, fall and peak seasons. I want to say a special thank you to everyone involved in making this event a success: our visiting tour operators and partners; attending local service providers; participating venues and attractions; and of course, the BTMI team, without whom this would be impossible. I trust that this year’s conference has been enjoyed by all and I am already looking forward to hosting everyone once again in 2018.
William ‘Billy’ Griffith Chief Executive Officer Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
An island rich in heritage and colourful in culture, Barbados is truly the gem of the Caribbean Sea.
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GUN HILL UNDER THE STARS
It was an elegant evening of pomp and fine rum at the Welcome Reception of Connect Barbados. Guests entered to the sounds of the Barbados Defense Force Band, and a cultural parade, leading the way to the tasty food stations and cocktail bars. Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, officially opened the evening, and stunning performances by opera singer Chantal Martin, and the ladies of Honey Jazz serenaded all in attendance. Historic Gun Hill Signal Station glowed under the starry night sky. It was indeed a beautiful night to remember.
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COME FOR THE SUN, STAY FOR THE FUN! At first glance one might mistake Barbados for just another island in the sun. And while its soft powder-white sand and warm turquoise waters are indeed a part of its charm, this 166-square mile gem packs a lot of punch for its size. One of Barbados’ best kept secrets has been its diverse and exhilarating sporting avenues. For years golfing stars, cricket legends and surfing pros have graced this island’s shores for a getaway no other destination can match. The renowned friendliness of its people, coupled with its diversity of activities, makes Barbados a sport’s lovers dream come true. That’s why 2017 has been dedicated the Year of Sports by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI). This year will see all of the satellite offices feverishly promoting the plethora of events tailored to sports enthusiasts of all levels. From
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world class golf to high speed motor sports, and stand up paddle yoga, there really is something for everyone. In addition to the well-loved favourites such as the Sir Garfield Sobers Festival of Golf and the Run Barbados Marathon, the BTMI is proud to introduce new, carefully crafted activities to the lineup. They include the O.K. Dinghy World Championships, Finn World Masters Championships, Barbados Beach Tennis Open, Barbados Beach and Wellness Festival, and the Barbados Cycling Festival. For more information, head to visitbarbados.org. WHAT’S NEW: The Jet Blade Experience Visitors seeking an adrenaline rush will go headover-heels for Barbados’ newest hydro sporting activity. Jet Blade (pictured above) combines water sports and maximum power for a rush you will never forget. See more at jetbladebarbados.com.
B2B SESSIONS Thursday and Friday saw visiting tour operators and airline partners meeting with local service providers in a series of over 500 meetings held at the Hilton Barbados Resort. Visiting participants learnt all about Barbadosâ€™ latest promotions, attractions and accommodations, and also shared feedback directly from their respective markets. Before the sessions opened, participants got to hear from some of the key players in Barbadosâ€™ tourism industry, including the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) and the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA). Their presentations on the latest trends and developments sweeping the local product and accommodations landscape, armed operators with a wealth of background knowledge to aid them as they return home to sell destination Barbados. Oh, and the lunch was delicious!
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COFFEE & CONVERSATION WITH THE TEAM
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EAT YOUR HEART OUT THIS HOLIDAY! There are several ways to immerse yourself in a new culture. You can visit museums, tour cultural sites or simply chat with the locals. But perhaps the heartiest way to experience a culture is through its food. And with the diversity of gastronomic fare sprinkled across the island, Barbados is the perfect destination for a culinary baptism of culture. Sometimes referred to as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, Barbadians’ love of food is only surpassed by their adulation of the summer Crop Over festival. That’s why each November, Barbadians from all over the world, gather here for the island’s greatest celebration of food – the Barbados Food & Rum Festival. Now in its eighth year, the Festival pairs Bajan cuisine with the spirit we lay claim to – rum. Barbados is considered the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay distillery – founded in 1703 – is believed to produce the oldest rum found anywhere in the world. And so, the Food & Rum Festival, steeped in history and rich in culture, has become a beacon of Barbadiana for both locals and visitors alike. Perhaps what makes the Food & Rum Festival truly unique, is the way it combines top local chefs with some of the world’s best international chefs, for a fusion of flavours sure to tantalize every taste bud. This year’s lineup includes some of the biggest names in the industry and will be revealed soon! This year’s Festival will run from November 16th to 19th, but will be preceded by a series of pop-up events such as culinary competitions and popular entertainment shows across the island. The Festival will officially open on Thursday the 16th at the
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renowned Oistins Bay Gardens, a historic fishing village and weekly Friday night hotspot for fresh food and local entertainment. Taste of the Exotic: A Signature Rum Event, featuring food and rum pairings will be held on Friday the 17th, followed by a sumptuous Saturday afternoon at the Taste the Spirits Polo Event, where guests will be treated to rum cocktails, canapés, and a thrilling game of polo. Diversity continues well into Saturday evening, and guests can select a West Coast dinner at The Cliff, or be treated to the culinary stylings of a surprise Caribbean celebrity chef at The Crane Resort on the East Coast. The Festival will climax on Sunday evening as we take to the azure waters for a flotilla and beach party, giving guests the opportunity to sink their toes in the sand. Of course, land crabs can opt for a fine dining experience at The Tides restaurant. Hungry yet? These events are not to be missed!
TRY ME! Spice up your coconut water with a few splashes of Mount Gay Eclipse Silver rum!
A TRUE BAJAN SEND OFF! Holders Polo Field was transformed as the curtain closed on Connect Barbados. A teaser of the annual Food & Rum festival, it was a gastronomic fare as local chefs wowed guests with a variety of Bajan delicacies. Popular Food & Rum chef, Michael Harrison, served roasted breadfruit with a range of topping options including buljol, lobster and pulled pork. Local proprietors including Bar Cutters and Lunch Tins introduced guests to pulled pork cutters, pizza fries and fish cakes, just to name a few. Not to be left out were the popular Bajan pastries such as jam puffs and turnovers from Purity Bakeries; BICO icecream; a sno-cone vendor; and a coconut vendor. In addition to the food stations, a special Mount Gay bar featuring mixologist Ryan Adamson was open all night, starring signature cocktails, all using local rum.
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After the party... The lights went down and the stage was set for an energizing evening of local entertainment. Stiffy (right) was first up, showcasing some of the flavour of the upcoming Crop Over festival, followed by the dynamic duo of Leadpipe and Saddis. After just a short interlude of deejay music, the band Krosfyah dominated with their newest member, Joaquin. The renowned soca band kept the lively crowd going until the close of the night, around 11:00 p.m.
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Around Barbados in One Day
On Saturday, visiting operators and partners took to the streets and the seas to experience some of Barbadosâ€™ most popular attractions. Some swam with the turtles on a catamaran cruise; others discovered the rich history of the Museum of Parliament and The National Heroes Gallery; went off the beaten path with an Island Safari tour; went underwater in the Atlantis Submarine; or journeyed underground at Harrisonâ€™s Cave.
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Highlights from the premier business-to-business tourism conference held in Barbados.