Barbados Tourism Authority targets Russia: Good idea?

What will be the BTA’s Return on Investment for Russia’s “My Planet Travel Awards”?

by Nevermind Kurt

The few Russian visitors I personally meet while working or at the beach are nice enough people. They are polite in their own way, keep to themselves and are quiet except when they’re not quiet and then they are boisterous and happy, not the mean drinkers that I sometimes see from elsewhere. They have money. The ones I see generally bring their children along. I think that some of the “keep to themselves” impression comes from the language difference. When their English is better the Russians seem friendlier because you can talk to them. That is my experience and, as they say, your mileage may vary!

The Russians are easy enough to please as tourists and they are a pleasure after dealing with finicky and unfriendly Germans. Some stereotypes exist because they’re true, you know.

The Barbados Tourism Authority launched its first ever dedicated promotional campaign in the Russian market in 2010 and they are following up by joining the “My Planet Travel Awards” that is essentially a tourism promotional package the BTA bought into to market to Russians.

Bajans don’t know how much this is costing us or what the return on our investment will be. It’s not likely that we’ll ever know because the government doesn’t allow citizens to know exactly how our tax dollars are spent. Neither are we provided with any information to enable us to judge whether the dollars achieved worthwhile results.

The BTA – My Planet Travel Awards announcement says that Russian tourism to Barbados was up 45% in 2010, but that could mean that 20 Russians visited in 2009 and 30 visited in 2010. If we paid millions for those extra ten people, it’s not a good return. Or was it 100 more visitors for a hundred thousand dollar expense? Why aren’t we allowed to know and examine the raw data? You know the answer to that one as well as I do.

Easier to keep an old customer than to win a new one

In the past year we’ve seen the BTA target some new markets and I think that has to be done as long as the people who are running the show keep themselves grounded in reality. Remember a few years ago when the then Tourism Minister made a big deal that tourists from Africa were going to be an important part of our tourism economy? Remember the aborted Ghana Airlines disaster? Remember the Indian tourism disaster?

What was the BTA thinking at the time? Maybe a better question would be “What were they smoking?”

Tourism from Nigeria and Ghana? BTA had to have been smoking something to put effort into that promotion!

In the last year we’ve seen a BTA push into South America, the American mid-west, China and now Russia. At the risk of repeating myself too much, I say that I understand the need to explore new markets, but I hope the BTA puts as much effort into improving our tourism product and retaining old customers as it does trying to find new customers.

Remember that there are two distinct business models:

1/ Deliver a mediocre or substandard product at too high a price and constantly have to work to find new customers because people will give the business a try but they won’t return.


2/ Deliver an excellent product at a fair price and be happy as your loyal customers return again and again as they bring their friends into your client base.

Which business model does Barbados and the BTA have? In the past it was definitely the “constantly search for new clients” model and spend like there’s no tomorrow to do it.

I have the impression that the BTA is being more careful now because they have to be. That’s not good enough though. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s really happening with the BTA expenditures? I believe we taxpayers have a right to know, and should have a right to access the raw data so we can make our own assessments.

I’d like to know the following from the BTA:

  • How many Russians visited Barbados in 2009?
  • How many Russians visited Barbados in 2010?
  • How much did the BTA spend promoting Barbados in Russia in 2008, 2009 and 2010?

I can’t think of any reason why we citizens shouldn’t have access to those numbers and the supporting data.

Further Reading

eturbo Travel News: Barbados becomes partner for My Planet Travel Awards 2011

My Planet Travel Awards


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

12 responses to “Barbados Tourism Authority targets Russia: Good idea?

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    In my humble opinion ANY investment in developing Russia
    as an emerging tourism market for Barbados HAS to be undertaken with an objective that is ultimately cost-effective.
    Whether that is done on an ad-hoc basis using existing airlift via Gatwick of having a dedicated charter to Barbados from Moscow.
    Moscow-Barbados is 5,755 miles (Great Circle) so nearly around 11/12 hours flying and certain crew challenges.
    I am not sure who is in a position to ensure marketing funds are spent in the most productive way. During the short period I sat on the BTA board, I repeatedly questioned the cost-effectiveness of the Best of Barbados programme and sadly was never able to obtain any economic justification for the investment. Possibly this was one of the reasons I was ‘revoked’ but with Government under considerable
    fiscal pressure, it has never been more important to link marketing spend with results.

  2. Kammie

    The issue with the Ghanaians and Nigerians is it was a good effort, which turned out to be a scam for work by some here and in Ghanaians plus the airline collapsed. How many British tour operators collapse and leave tourist stranded? Be balance in your criticism of Africa. Why do blacks speak so ill of Africa are we still brainwashed that everything African or Black is suspect. It would be nice to speak to the Custom department of Fedex and DHL and hear how many Barbadians are tricked weekly of thousands of dollars by Chinese companies posing as legitimate companies.

    Trinidad just lifted the visa requirement for Russian tourist and why have I not seen you speak about the Russian Mobs who seek to spread their influence! It seems the brainwashing by the Western media continues to be effective in dividing us. Oh how shameful of black media houses and personnel.

  3. rasta man

    Who on earth would travel as a TOURIST from Russia to Barbados?

  4. Naya

    Kammie I don’t think BFP is being negative about africa. they are being reality. Nigeria and Ghana don’t have the population or money or direct flight access to be relied on as an “important” contirbutor to our tourist based economy. The Ghana flight was not “a good effort” it was a scam from the start based upon emotional love for mother Africa (that I have) but was not based on monetary reality.

    India! Why the F***K! would anybody think poeple going to fly from India to Barbados? For hot weather? For the sea? What the F**K! was the BLP thinking?

    Russians in their winter could love Barbados. It is very different from the Med. Barbados is very different from everywhere they can go. Is it too far away? Is it too expensive? We never know until we try, but I agree with BFP and Adrian Loveridge that we must try carefully. Frugally with accountable for the spending and the results.

    Black is not suspect Kammie. Poor is suspect if you intend to base your economy on how you wish things were rather than how they are in reality.


    The Russian community of Brighton Beach (Brooklyn) , communicate with their home base ( Mother Russia), travel a lot, are quite successful, love warm weather, and HAVE MONEY; What’s to loose??

  6. rasta man

    @AP, word should be “lose”

  7. Get real kammie. Very strange that the very first flight resulted in controversy and COSTING BAJAN TAX PAYERS TO HOUSE AND SEND BACK THE “TOURISTS” Africa is not a good market for inboubd tourism. Maybe for out bound that could work there may be many Bajans wanting see and spend $ in Africa but with a LARGE % of its people dirt poor they CANNOT afford Bim [like the white ones in the UK hardly can]. It is not brain washing it is reality the inaugrual flight was a real stupid flop.

  8. Wuh lawd

    Kammie yuh white friends joy joy, naya etc turn pon yuh!

  9. J. Payne

    Has the demographics of Moscow changed since 2003-2004?

    * The Russian capital Moscow now boasts more billionaires than any other city in the world, according to a survey by Forbes magazine.

    * AFP: ‘Billionaire capital’ Moscow basks in unimagined wealth

    * Moscow overtakes New York as the billionaires’ capital of the world

  10. J. Payne

    If the BTA was going to push to get into Africa they should have gone for the economic centre in South Africa. I remember a few years ago the Nation had published that a company in South Africa even wanted to purchase a financial stake into the Barbados based CBC. Why was that never reviewed I have no idea. That would have been a great opportunity to get more African content in Barbados as well as more Barbadian content into Africa. If they company made Barbados the lead of any future Caribbean-wide network that would have had good spin off effects for the country too. South Africa would have been a better bet. IMHO. If that works and Ghana and Nigeria wanted links the BTA could have built on South Africa. But South Africa is where the money is at.

  11. Shanti

    I am a Trinidadian who traveled to Moscow for 2 weeks in 2010. I was surprised to lean from Kammie that ‘Trinidad just lifted the visa requirement for Russian tourists’. Well, I was required to pay $250.00 for a visa in order to visit Moscow! It seems that TnT gov’t welcomed the Germans now the Russians but both do not seem to recopricate with Caribbean visitors to their country.

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