Ministry of Tourism Launches UK Promotion

Wednesday, 14 October 2009 07:44 BHA News Editor

The Ministry of Tourism is preparing to launch a near $300,000 initiative centered around a U.K. film project distinguishing the islands of The Bahamas in an effort to boost arrivals from that destination.

The project has already landed the ministry 150 applications from film makers in that destination who are eager to shoot the three to five minute films, from which 14 will be chosen to be shown in cinemas around the U.K. Director General Vernice Walkine asserts Tourism's 14 Island Challenge could provide the Out Islands with much needed exposure the ministry just can't pay for.

"We'll never have a campaign to promote Mayaguana," she told reporters yesterday. "This we believe is the most effective and efficient way for us to communicate that we have multiple islands... we've not done as effective a job in communicating we're Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera and so on.

"In the U.K. the perception is there is only Nassau and Paradise Island."


It's an important distinction for a nation hoping to lift sagging arrival numbers from that destination. While many visitors to The Bahamas appreciate the draws of New Providence, and to a lesser extent Grand Bahama, European visitors historically are known to gravitate to the more tranquil, peaceful destinations.

In fact, offering that kind of getaway played a large part in several regional competitors withstanding the effects of the global downturn longer than other neighboring countries that had primarily focused on North American travelers.

Walkine asserts the upcoming island challenge is key to getting the word out that The Bahamas not only boasts the excitement of city life but the charm of island life that has made a success of other countries' tourism product.

"You will see that the Challenge is designed to build greater awareness of The Bahamas and appreciation of our beauty, particularly in the United Kingdom," she said. "This lines up perfectly with our main strategic goal of attracting U.K. travelers to the islands of The Bahamas in 2009 and 2010.

"In order to increase our market share of UK travelers, we have set out to communicate the range and diversity of these islands."

Officials intend to judge the success of the initiative by the degree people go online to book vacations and the number of cinemas in the U.K. that pick up the films to show as a preview in their theaters. U.K. District Sales Manager Giovanni Grant said deals were already being made in this direction.

"[Distribution] is pretty expansive," he added. "Right now we're working with some of the big cinemas in the U.K., ...[distribution will be targeted to the] London, Birmingham area, etc. . ."

The film makers will arrive in The Bahamas on January 26 and are expected to be here for 14 days. The islands that have been chose to be showcased are: Abaco, Andros, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, San Salvador, Exuma, Crooked Island, Inagua, Mayaguana, Long Island, Cat Island, Bimini, Grand Bahama and New Providence.

Locals will be chosen from each island to assist the film makers with the history of each island. Though not on the payroll, Walkine intimated that a stipend of some kind will be provided to those that are involved in the production.

The Ministry said it holds all vetting rights to edit out any unfavorable material shot during the production, with the intentions of holding all raw footage shot.