By Shamar Blunt
Tourism still stays a crucial a part of Barbados’ economic engine, which not only supports quite a few jobs, but has been the driving force over several many years to much of the island’s structural development and investment.
Though this isn’t a new fact to the typical local, over the course of the COVID 19 pandemic there was a renewed push to diversify the economy off the most important tourism product, with calls also being made to expand the tourism offerings from just the sun, sand, and sea image.
Director on the locally based international media production company 13 Degrees North Productions Inc., Kerri Birch, has been one in every of the numerous voices recently who’ve renewed calls to not only expand the island’s tourism brand, but to take a position in new areas, namely film tourism, which is a specialised type of tourism that capitalises on the interest of holiday makers to go to destinations which have turn out to be popular as a result of their appearances in film and other media.
During a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, Birch explained that before any real movement could possibly be seen in film tourism within the island, the perception of film and content creation in Barbados must change.
“I believe that in Barbados we are likely to still consider film as a hobby and never necessarily as a business, and since of that, it has caused this stagnation within the perception of what film is and the way useful film could possibly be within the Barbadian economy essentially.
“We normally structure it around culture – so we expect film is a cultural art, obviously it’s culture, it’s an art form, but we expect of it as a preservation of culture, versus also considering of the spin-off effects that movies can have. Even for a tourism spin-off effect, for what we [13 Degrees North] do with production facilitation, when someone comes here and they will film on island, they’re consuming the whole lot on island, so we’re accommodation, transportation, we’re the usage of the banking system, we’re catering, and we’re also providing jobs for Barbadians here to truly work on set as well, with them gaining additional skill sets,” she explained.
Birch insisted that though Barbados remained a desirable destination with visitors who need to enjoy their time on a tropical island, film producers often have budgets to balance, a incontrovertible fact that can’t be ignored when one considers the massive amounts of financing needed for individual projects.
“If we’re constructing out a movie industry, one in every of the most important things that sometimes stops crews from coming here to shoot is our lack of film incentives.
At the tip of the day Barbados could be a very expensive place to film – what we want to do is to start out by pushing what we now have here, we now have beautiful locations which can be untapped, we do have a talented workforce here that after more crews start coming to the island, they’ll gain much more experience.
“What happens is that when individuals have their budgets, even when Barbados is appealing, you’re going to go to the places that let you know ‘hey, you’ll be able to get back 10 per cent or 20 per cent’ if I am going and film over here.”
On the feasibility of a new push into film tourism, Birch emphasised that though the thought could also be new here to the typical individual, the area of interest market has been running for a while, but on a small scale.
“I believe that [film tourism] is possible because we now have seen it in motion. With the Netflix show Outer Banks coming here for 2 years in a row, annually that crew is here for a month, while utilising our tourism product.
Brooklynettes, cheerleading team for the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, come here every 12 months and do their calendar shoots all around the island… these items are done in pockets and too far and few in between, what we want is to make it something is coming in consistently, and the one way we will try this is to offer the cash to advertise Barbados as a filming location, and hopefully in the longer term, as a spot with incentives that will entice these productions to come back here.”