Barbados looking to attract more MICE

SOURCE: www.marcariagroup.com

Barbados is becoming an attractive destination for the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) market, according to local tourism officials.

The island welcomed approximately 130 buyers mainly from North American for the Caribbean Meeting and Incentive Travel Exchange (CMITE) programme organized by the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTMI).

BTMI Director in the United States Petra Roach said the August 29 to September 1 CMITE event had already begun to reap rewards, with at least ten proposals already put received for group visits.

“The buyers came out with requests for proposals, which is prospective groups enquiries for the coming years. So actually we’ve had about ten requests for groups coming in within the next two to three years, and these groups range from about 22 people to groups of about 400 people. So it is a really good business opportunity for Barbados,” Roach told Barbados TODAY.

The CMITE is an annual event which features one-on-one meetings, training and networking opportunities for meeting and event planning professionals, and incentive buyers and suppliers.

Suppliers at this year’s event included cruise lines, tour operators, hotels, spas and destination management companies.

Roach said given the fact that the meetings and incentives industry was a multi-million dollar one that had been on Barbados’ radar for some time, it was about time the island took advantage of it.

“So we have basically said to all these very well qualified buyers that Barbados is opened in this arena. We want them to know that it is not for everybody because we cannot accommodate the groups which are 1,000 people plus. But we have a very specific niche, which is those incentives, you know groups of up to 400 clients who are coming from the USA and again the partners here are quite well qualified to accommodate them,” Roach said.

While here, the group was exposed to some aspects of local culture as well as historical sites, and sampled  local cuisine and the various blends of local rum.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the group had a series of meetings with hotel partners and destination management companies.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the Hilton Resort and Caribbean destination management company Sunlinc, also afforded the visitors the opportunity to experience various forms of Barbadian entertainment and attractions.

“It is not just about the conference and incentives business because at the end of the day the people who come here on those conferences and incentives actually go back and become ambassadors for the island and talk to their friends about what an exciting and amazing visit that they have had,” Roach stressed.

Some of the potential buyers told Barbados TODAY the experience was a good one and they were sold on ensuring more meetings and conferences came to these shores.

One of the US organizers Peter Schmitt said it was good to have Barbados as this year’s host.

“Every little activity that we had we got a slice of what is to come. It is like opening a Christmas present. We get to see a little bit of everything that Barbados has to offer without exposing what is under the sheets,” he said.

Other local companies involved in the event included The Crane resort, Elegant Hotels and Ocean 2.

Next year’s CMITE is scheduled for Jamaica.