Just for the record, I would like to applaud all those involved in securing the direct non-stop flight from GOL flight from Sao Paulo including the Minister of Tourism, BTA, Barbados Diplomatic Corp and BHTA.
It is a tremendous achievement, and I believe it offers the very best option in terms of route, carrier, duration of flight, connecting city possibilities and gateway.
From comments made by the Minister in the media, he is not expecting every flight to be full in the initial operating period, and however sceptical some may be about this foray into South America, this is in my humble opinion is a very realistic approach.
I would, though, offer some suggestions how, perhaps, more of those seats could be filled by specifically targeting niche markets…
I think that we should break down 60 of the available 150 seats per flight and set some achievable goals and objectives.
1) The majority of the buses operated by the Transport Board are made in Brazil and so many of them seem to be prematurely retired for mechanical and spare parts challenges. Let’s initiate an ongoing programme, where an average of ten Brazilian mechanics train Barbadians to keep these vehicles on the road.
Please don’t anyone say it’s not possible. London Transport kept buses on the road, well maintained for up to 40 years and in the sixties and seventies that was made possible partially by Caribbean immigrants.
2) Trade Missions (in both directions). Ten seats a week dedicated to forging better trade links between the two countries. The Goddard Group have spectacularly demonstrated that size (Barbados) is no impediment to ambition.
3) Cultural exchanges. Another ten seats a week.
4) GOL operates a highly successful frequent flyer programme called SMILES with a stated 6 million members, but also allows the 50 million American Airlines AAdvantage members to use their miles on GOL flights. To tempt those 56 million people who already have the means to reach us, Barbados could be offered at a reduced mileage.
Another ten seats a week.
5) Meetings, conferences, incentive and motivational travel.
Surely, we can find ten people a week that would be motivated to excel in return for a one week holiday in Barbados.
6) Sports groups. Football, polo (connecting flight to Buenos Aires), athletics, golf, yachting! The list goes on.
7) Education and Language studies. Corporate sponsored language development courses to build for the future.
8) Freight. While each seat costs from around US$750 return, in freight terms this could only be about 375 kilos of freight.
Brazil is one of the most advanced agro production countries in the world and could offer our tourism industry endless new exciting fruit, vegetable, meat and seafood possibilities.
Just ask yourself how much Brazilian coffee is consumed in Barbados annually and what is the current cost of getting it here?
9) There is no doubt that we have stolen the thunder from our neighbours in securing this flight. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Lucia must be especially envious, but let’s work with them to collectively fill the initial flights and grow the route.
For sure the Brazilians that currently visit Mustique regularly are going to find this six hour option very tempting.
Of course, I could go on and many others could (and should) add to this short list.
26th June 2010