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‘Barbados and the Grenadines’ to be scrapped

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Faced with a barrage of criticism over a tourism campaign marketing Barbados and the Grenadines as though they were a single destination, an Irish travel agency says it will rewrite its website and brochures.

Joe Walsh Tours has been wooing Irish and British tourists to “Barbados and the Grenadines” and while Caribbean people know these are two separate countries there are concerns in some quarters that it is misleading foreigners.{{more}}

It is not a new issue. The topic kept radio talk shows hot last year when the issue first surfaced. It has arisen again because of complaints from some tourists, some of whom were reportedly frustrated that once they got to Barbados it was difficult traveling onward to the Grenadines.

Attorney Saboto Caesar writing in his column (page 10) raised some concern over the marketing ploy.

“What implications would this have on our attempts to increase stay-over visitors in the Grenadines, and the many benefits to be derived? What if the worst is to happen and a travel advisory is to be issued against Barbados, what would be the implications for the Grenadines since it is already in the public’s domain as “Barbados and the Grenadines?'” he asked.

The single resort in the Grenadines that is being marketed is Palm Island and its manager, Marsha Moss, told SEARCHLIGHT that she will raise the matter with the overseas agencies which market the property to ensure that it is made clear that the Grenadines were not part of Barbados.

“I will definitely point it out to our representatives,” said Moss.

Tourism Minister Glenn Beache said that this had been an ongoing issue as promoters were marketing the Grenadines in such a subtle way that it often appeared that the islands were either part of Barbados, Grenada, or even St Lucia.

“It is not something that we are happy about but on the other hand it brings more visitors to the Grenadines,” Minister Beache told SEARCHLIGHT, adding that he was nevertheless concerned that any travel advisory against these other countries might affect the Grenadines.

Speaking from her Dublin-based office with SEARCHLIGHT, Joe Walsh Tours marketing manager, Louise Crawford, said that there was no attempt to suggest that Barbados and the Grenadines comprised one country.

She explained that they market properties in Barbados and on Palm Island and that was the only link. If they were also marketing properties on mainland St Vincent then the promotion would have read “Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines”.

She said various destinations within close proximity were often marketed jointly such as in the case of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

However once SEARCHLIGHT pointed out the differences in layout and representation on the website as well as potential problematic scenarios such as a travel advisory, Crawford did not hesitate to commit to changing the literature.

“You are right,” Crawford said and then made a commitment to revisit the wording on the website and brochure, promising that there would be “a clear indication of the political connection between the Grenadines and St Vincent.”

The company was in the process of writing its 2007 brochures and the changes will be reflected in them.

She agreed that any negative advisory on Barbados could affect the Grenadines if there is any misconception that the two are linked in any way out side of geographical proximity.

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