Big excitement in Barbados over direct Brazil flights – but still no Portuguese language on Barbados Tourism Authority website after ten years

Why won’t the Barbados Tourism Authority get off it’s lazy ass and welcome BTA website visitors in Portuguese?

Sorry for the subtitle language, folks. I don’t know how to express the frustration of the entire Barbados tourism industry in any clearer manner.

Hotel owners have been asking the BTA to put up welcome pages in Portuguese and Spanish for over a decade. Tourism and Industry ministers under four different governments have talked about tapping into the huge tourism potential of Brazil and some of our other Central and South American neighbours for 17 years. Barbados spends millions upon millions of dollars every year in tourism marketing and subsidies but we haven’t got what it takes to put up a few webpages to say “Come to Barbados!” in the language that our prospective customers speak.

It just boggles the mind.

“Language is one of the strongest elements of Brazil’s national unity. Portuguese is spoken by nearly 99.9 percent of the population.”

… from Wikipedia’s entry on Brazil

Pointing out the BTA’s lack of Portuguese & Spanish website for five months

BFP started focusing on this one simple issue in our September 23, 2009 article: Idiocy! Government Minister Hutson says “Look to Latinos”, but Barbados Tourism Authority failed to establish Spanish, Portuguese language websites despite 10 years of begging by hotel owners

We followed up on November 6, 2009 with this story: Six weeks later: Still no Spanish, Portuguese language welcome on Barbados Tourism or Investment & Development websites.

“Its now over ten years since I pleaded with the BTA to place a Spanish and Portuguese language version on the national website, so at least some of those 400 million plus potential travelers could do the prior research or planning.
 Look on YouTube and you will see a Spanish version of a television ‘ad’ prepared for the BTA. Of course it was almost a waste of time and money because it contained no-call-to action (telephone number or website address).”

… Adrian Loveridge, private sector hotel owner, “Peach & Quiet Hotel” Barbados

What is it about the BTA that makes them unable to understand the importance of language in marketing?

The Barbados Tourism Authority should have established a Portuguese-language welcome page at the BTA website a decade ago. It’s a basic requirement for entering any tourism market: you have to be able to speak to your target audience. If you’re not willing to do that you are just pretending.

In the case of the BTA, they can do things ass-backwards because they’re playing with the never-ending buckets of our tax dollars and don’t have to show any measurable results. The BTA can make so many basic errors and nobody seems to call them on it.

This is just so stupid.

Our government went to the trouble and expense of lobbying for and facilitating scheduled flights between Brazil and Barbados, but can’t spend what amounts to rum-money to hire a translator to provide some basic information on the BTA website in Portuguese. We’re not even talking about hiring a Brazilian call center to answer questions by prospective tourists – but that’s pretty basic too.

Is there something I’m missing here? PLEASE tell me I’m wrong or crazy or something. Tell me I don’t understand tourism marketing. Explain to me why I should believe that our BTA people are doing the right things at the right time and they are not a bunch of idiots who are unable to make such a simple and low-cost, yet vital, addition to the BTA website.

31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

31 responses to “Big excitement in Barbados over direct Brazil flights – but still no Portuguese language on Barbados Tourism Authority website after ten years

  1. Johnny Postle @

    Why won’t the Barbados Tourism Authority get off it’s lazy ass and welcome BTA website visitors in Portuguese?
    ===================================
    Hahahahaha.

  2. Unbelievable

    It is unbelievable that the tourism minister and his people had a big press conference talking about South American potential and the BTA won’t translate its website and put a couple of language flag buttons up like everyone does.

    Can you imagine Japan’s tourism website put up only in Japanese? Hahahahaha!

  3. Musing

    Maybe they know it’s a waist of time market and don’t want to spend any more money than the Minster has to so he can shout ‘new increased airlift”.

    Lets face it – The South American market (especially Brazil) has better vacation options for their people, better entertainment, better beaches and all at a much lower cost in amount of money and time (as they are closer to fly to from the main cities). Oh, and they already speak the same language and eat the same foods that they are accustomed to – same thing with the Mexicans and most other Latin countries.

    While the first flight will always be full (of all the airline staff and invited guest) it will be interesting to find out how much money the government ends up paying per flight for empty seats and also how full / empty the flights really run.

    I guess we better position someone at the airport after the first flights with a bean counter!!!

  4. Adrian Loveridge

    Musing,

    I am afraid I have to disagree with you on this one.

    I think the choice of carrier, route and frequency is absolutely the right choice for a start-up.
    Once a week with a B737, so depending on configeration we are only looking for around 140 persons per week.

    In my humbe opinion the success of this initially weekly flight and the growth of the route is going to be down to building smart partnerships.

    Metropolitan Sao Paulo has a population of around 20 million and even if just 1% of these have the disposable income to travel, then we stand a good chance of making it viable.

    It will also be critical to target niche markets in
    concert with our Caribbean neighbours.
    Golf, bareboat charters, high end villas (Barbados and Mustique) resorts like Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent, Young Island etc, and a cruise and stay programme with specialty ships like Star Clippers, Windstar and Silversea.

    And we should not forget business travel and the vast freight possibilities. A SIX hour direct flight
    is a dream come true.

    We must also look very carefully at the connecting flight possibilities to see how we can maximise the potential. For many people within the region it could be the quickest way to reach Sao Paulo and the 49 other cities GOL services in Brazil with 800 flights DAILY plus 10 international cities including Buenos Aires.

    The Minister of Tourism has also mentioned COPA Airlines based in Panama who have an incredible seamless hub connecting several South and Central American cities.

    Even a once a week flight non-stop from Panama using their EMB195 – 98 seater jets could work very well for Barbados.
    This was my suggestion and recommendation when I sat on the National Marketing Committee/BTA Board over a year ago.

    Tourism watchers have to bear in mind that with the Best of Barbados programme, the taxpayer was subsidising travellers from our TRADITIONAL markets by up to US$300 per person for over 7 years.

    Obviously, there will be a cost to develop new markets.
    The secret is to ENSURE any investment is cost-effective.

    I fully support the GOL initiative and its refreshing to see some new thinking.

  5. Musing

    Hi Adrian,

    I hope you are right!

    But from my “little” experience with the Brazilian market I don’t see it happening.

    Obrigado for your comment though.

  6. Thewhiterabbit

    Adrian Loveridge’s ideas concerning highly integrated tourism possibilities with Brazil are absolutely wonderful. It is only too, too, sad that he is living in a universe not intellectually connected to Barbados. If we can’t get up a few web pages in languages spoken by potential visitors, does anybody really think we can establish the connections and linkages he envisions?

  7. Adrian Loveridge

    Thank You, Thewhiterabbit,

    but its how we MUST think.

    More and More destinations are emerging that are ready, willing and able to eat our lunch (and dinner and breakfast).
    We have to put the best minds in place and people that have the passion and who are willing to work to make things happen.

    Same old, Same old isn’t going to work anymore in a recession.

  8. Musing

    Lets see what happens!

    Time will tell who are the experts!

  9. FACTS

    i’ve said it before and will say it again: “It is a waste of good tax payers’ money to throw at an illusory market!”

    We’ve tried it in the past – and you mean we are going to try it again? When will we learn.

    Brazil is looking to bring tourists to their shores!

    What sector of the Brazil population are we targeting? What is their history of travel? Where do they normally frequent?

    Our best markets are the ones we have proven in the past: Canada (especially the French Canadians), Uncle Sam, Britain, Germany and the Scandenavian countres.

    I believe we should work harder with these time-tested markets and not waste money with Brazil.

  10. What does a translated website cost?

    Facts thinks that it’s not worth the effort of translating the BTA website into Portuguese and Spanish. What would it cost? A couple of thousand dollars at most? They spend more on lunches at the BTA.

    A couple of thousand dollars to give us a much better shot at a new market is a fair investment. Why can’t we do anything right on this rock?

  11. the hood

    @ FACTS
    February 26, 2010 at 1:41 am
    “I believe we should work harder with these time-tested markets and not waste money with Brazil.”
    ………………………………………………………………………………

    Same old typical Bajan attitude……………continue doing what you have always done the same way you have always done it and yet expect different results!
    ……………………………………………………………………………….
    From a personal point of view I am most happy to hear of the air connection between B’dos/Brazil.
    Why in this day and age should I still have to travel all the way north to Miami in order to get to Buenos Aires? At least this makes it a lot simpler. Cuts the flying time by at least 3-5 hours by flying to Brazil & then connecting to, for instance, B/Aires. Hope it is successful. However, with the present regime in control I very much doubt it will. They (DLP) have a penchant of screwing up anything they put their hands to.

  12. Adrian Loveridge

    Actually it cut the travelling time by more than EIGHT hours.
    BGI/GRU (Sao Paulo) via Miami/AA – 14 hours 20 minutes.
    GRU/BGI via Miami – 15 hours

    Published Fare US$2,304.40 (including over US$300 in taxes).

  13. Red Lake Lassie

    The attitude of the Barbados Tourism Authority towards changing their website can be defined as follows:

    a) If BFP hadn’t mentioned it, it wouldn’t happen because we can’t be bothered.

    b) Now that BFP is calling for the changes we can’t be seen to respond to their bullying.

    I hope that clears up any misunderstandings why there will be no changes to the BTA website! 🙂

  14. How about the web sites of the hotels trying to attract visitors from Brasil offering their content in different languages ?

  15. FACTS

    To my friends above,

    We’ll see how successful this “new” tourism thrust to Brazil will be.

  16. BFP

    Good Idea, notbajan!

    Now we have a direct flight it might pay some of the hotel and tourist business websites to do what they can. I’d like to hear what Adrian Loveridge has to say about that. Adrian… now that there is a direct flight, will you be having a welcome page or your hotel rates in Portuguese? I don’t think that you or anyone at your business speaks Portuguese, but do you think it would at least tell the folks in Brazil that you welcome them and value their business?

  17. Adrian Loveridge

    BFP/NotBajan,

    Great idea and all it takes is a little flag with a behind the icon link.
    Axses Web Communications who still run the most visited ‘national’ website (www.barbados.org)
    could probably undertake the task for all interested hotels at a very sensible cost.

    However, the BTA’ s website still needs the language versions because that will be the first point of contact or call to action from any destination advertising.

    I did ask one of the people at MMG, the relatively new ad agency in North America and he said it could be done within a couple of months, so I can only assume that it has been a policy decision NOT to go ahead with it.

  18. the hood

    @Adrian Loveridge
    February 26, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for the correction re cut in flying time. I had stupidly not remembered B’dos/MIA leg. :>)

  19. its not about tourism

    when will you people get it? its not about tourism. its about a bunch of people fattening their wallets at taxpayers expense. they will never do what needs to be done. its easy to just sit back and pocket the money.

  20. Bajeabroad

    I have to agree, Barbados’ problems both in terms of Tourism and the economy at large have nothing to do with a lack of ideas but lack of an ability to implement the ideas.

    There is absolutely no incentive for politicians to make the hard choices needed to propel the country’s development. Poor performance is rewarded and accepted daily by the population at large. If I can get away with D+ performance why should I be a A student. Look at our accepted ZR culture as an example. Piss poor behaviour in that “industry” yet many of us turn a blind eye and use it daily. There is absolutely no accountability and until there is, “great” ideas will continue to be discussed but not implemented

    The hammer about to drop!!

  21. FACTS

    INAT/BAJE ABROAD,

    You are looking at it from the political end; my submission is different.

    I see it as a waste of money because there is no market. It’s like throwing money to the wind.

    It would make more sense to deepen our niche in established markets – whose tourists continue to come to Barbados; albeit in decreased numbers.

    Our marketing efforts should be in trying to increase our market share.

    The Brazil market is a mirage – for us, it does not exist.

  22. Adrian Loveridge

    FACTS,

    perhaps its time to quote some FACTS.

    ‘Brazilian tourism expenditure abroad grew from US$5.76 BILLION in 2006 to US$8.21 BILLION in 2007.
    A 42.45% increase’.

    ‘Brazilians travelling overseas in 2006 presented 3.9% of the country’s population’,.

    Population of Brazil: (2008) – 191,971,506

    Source: Wikipedia

  23. Adrian Loveridge

    NotBajan/BFP,

    Portuguese language translation up and running on Peach and Quiet website.
    Grateful thanks to Kathy at Axses Web Communications.

  24. FACTS

    Dear Mr Loveridge,

    Was away for a few days.

    The stats on Brazilean travel you quoted are not precise and does make sound disclosure.

    For example: Who travels? What age group? Which social class? Where do they mainly travel and why? What is the culture of the Brazilean touist? What do they eat? What do they buy?

    Any feasibility study worth its salt would seek to address these questions (and more) before any decision to spend millions of dollars is made.

    I am assuming that some sort of study was carried out before the die was cast.

    Adieu

  25. FACTS

    Mr.Loveridge,

    I forgot.

    Your quoting the population of Brazil does not score anything.

    The population of China and india are approximately a billion people a piece.

    Does that justify targetting their markets?

  26. FACTS

    Mr. Loveridge,

    I checked with your source of information you quoted: wikipedia. If this is what touism officials based their hopes on, they really are wasting money.

    The site mentions very little about Brazilian Tourism outside of Brazil. In fact, most of the comments on tourism relates to the tourism to Brazil.

    It mentions in one sentance that since 2006 there has been a steady flow of Brazilians visiting other destinations.
    Wow! That’s solid information on which to make a major investment!

  27. Adrian Loveridge

    ‘FACTS’

    I am not sure what your point is?

    Are you saying that ‘we’ should not try and build new markets and totally rely on the status quo?

    What happens, for instance when the value of a major currency falls against the one that produces our single largest number of visitors,
    ie: Sterling now worth less than BDS$3 per Pound.

    ‘We’ are initially trying to fill ONE plane per week (around 130 seats) from a country that has a population of nearly 200 million.
    Add the connection to Buenos Aires and you are up to 230 million,

    GOL Airlines has a quoted daily 800 flights from 49 domestic Brazilian and 12 international
    cities.

    Its the best option for development in this new market.

    Is it better to throw another $229 million at GEMS and $85 million at Harrisons Cave?

  28. Facts

    Mr. Loveridge,
    1. No. However, we should still try to widen our
    market base in our established markets

    2. We do not trade in the Brazilian REAL;
    therefore any inflow of funds from Brasil will
    be in conventional foreign exchange; for
    example: Euro, USD, BP’s.
    In summary, any sliding in the exchange rate
    will be the same and not vary because we
    trading with Brazil.

    3. If you are able to fill one seat a week from Brazil
    on a sustained basis, I WILL OFFER PERFUSE
    APOLOGIES and PUBLICLY RECOMMEND
    THAT YOU BE ENDOWED WITH A
    KNIGHTHOOD.

    4. GEMS/HARRISONS CAVE – POLITICAL!

    I agree with you in trying with the market; but my fear is that we are going to fail again.

  29. Pingback: New York Times’ Frugal Traveler Tweets Barbados Free Press article to 77,000 followers! « Barbados Free Press

  30. Louise Matias

    Hi everybody!

    I believe there is a misunderstanding here because the website in Portuguese and Spanish are already available since the beginning of the direct flight from Brazil (June 2010).
    The BTA has an official office in Brazil responsible to advertise Barbados in a way to “catch” the Brazilians’ interest.

    The BTA website in English is: http://www.visitbarbados.org/

    the Portuguese one is: http://www.visitebarbados.com/

    the Spanish one is: http://www.visitebarbados.com/espanol/

    And there are also the blog and the facebook pages in each language:

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Visite-Barbados/108572472521110

    http://visitebarbados.com/blog/

    And believe me, I’m a Brazilian and there is a lot of things here that interest us. Not only for tourism but for studying as well.

    See u around

  31. BFP

    Hi Louise!

    We are so happy to see you visit us, and we’d like to tell you that we are so happy that good people from Brazil are interested in spending some time in Barbados. You can be sure that we’ll do everything we can to make your visit enjoyable.

    This article was written in February of 2010 and at that time there was no Portuguese language website for Barbados tourism even though our hotel owners had been asking for the government to create one for ten years!

    Now we are happy that a Portuguese language website is available.

    Hey… come on up to Barbados and we’ll happily buy you a beer and dinner at Marcia’s Place in Oistins.