BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, April 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Luxe new resorts, timely travel trade and air partnerships, and a high-profile hometown girl helped Barbados break a thirty-year-old stayover record in 2017, and 2018 is on track for even more growth, according to Petra Roach, U.S. Director of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI). "This is a really exciting time in Barbados's journey and we want to spread the message that a vacation to Barbados is an immersive, transformative experience rather than just 'sun, sea and sand.'"
2017 saw the addition of coastal-cool concepts like Nikki Beach, the new Sandals Royal Barbados and a flurry of refurbished favorites including the Sea Breeze Beachhouse, Cobblers Cove, Waves, Fairmont Royal Pavilion and the Barbados Hilton.
New JetBlue flights out of the East Coast and Florida, strong online campaigns with Adara and Expedia, and diamond sponsor status with Virtuoso were big assists in boosting Barbados to 188,970 U.S. stayover visitors in 2017, breaking the previous record of 175,073 which occurred more than 30 years ago, in 1987. The U.S. market also snagged the top growth market crown for Barbados with an 11.7 percent year-over-year growth.
And of course, there's RiRi. The Bajan beauty is a tourism and cultural ambassador, spreading gold-record dust on her home island and appearing at annual events like Crop Over, Barbados' answer to Carnival. In December, the street she grew up on was officially christened "Rihanna Drive."
Not content to rest on its laurels, Barbados has an impressive U.S. outreach effort in 2018. BTMI has launched the Year of Culinary Experiences campaign, highlighting culinary and local experiences (including the ever-popular Barbados Food & Rum Festival) and will also feature a wellness and cycling festival.
The island will also play host to the 2018 Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) conference, drawing hundreds of U.S. travel writers, photographers and editors to its shores. Continued partnerships with Virtuoso and familiarization (FAM) trips with Travel Agent Magazine will keep Barbados top-of-mind in 2018.
The island of Barbados offers the most authentic Caribbean experiences with its exceptionally rich culture and history. It was awarded the Caribbean Best Destination 2016 by Expedia and was rated the 'Best Caribbean Beach' by USA Today in 2015. Barbados also ranked second place on Conde Nast Traveler's 2016 list of 'The Most Beautiful Islands in the Caribbean' and ranked third in the 2015 Trip Advisor "Travelers' Choice Awards for Islands 2015" in its Top 100 Destinations category. It is one of US News & World Report's Top 7 Caribbean Islands for Foodies. In addition, Barbados is the first Zagat-rated Caribbean island and known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Accommodations range from picturesque plantation houses and villas to quaint bed and breakfasts and award-winning, five-star resorts. Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) offers non-stop and direct service options from a growing number of gateways in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America, making Barbados the true gateway in the Eastern Caribbean. For more information on travel to Barbados, visit www.visitbarbados.org, follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Year of Culinary Experiences:
BTMI's 2018 the Year of Culinary Experiences was established to work in tandem with tourism trends and target the ever-growing movement of foodie travelers. Several events throughout the year, both in Barbados and via events in the U.S. will showcase Bajan cuisine to new audiences. More information can be found here.
SOURCE Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.