Contemporaneously, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has materialized as a dominant agency in the expansion of global economic activity in the Caribbean. This expansion intensifies economic development through information and technological transfer, employment creation, the enhancement of human capital and the increased capacity for entrepreneurial initiative. There are limitless avenues surrounding the hospitality and tourism sector that are supportive of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and the wedding industry is no exception. There are endless locations, themes and experiences that can be exploited. Harrison’s Cave provides a serene but romantic natural backdrop to accommodate small intimate gatherings, while the Port St. Charles marina is an ideal alternative for a more informal setting. The vast array of luxury hotels on all coasts and inland, add home grown flavor that has made Barbados one of the premier wedding destinations in the Caribbean.

To ensure we as an island are providing an unrivaled product, we must be innovative and trendsetting.  The wedding planners available are experts in their field, and the diversity of the island ensures that no two weddings are the same.  Recently introduced to Barbados is wedding insurance, offered by CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers (Barbados) Limited to mitigate any wedding day mishaps. Indeed, Barbados as a wedding destination undoubtedly offers favourable conditions for a memorable, tropical experience that will last a lifetime.

Therefore, the wedding destination niche in Barbados as a prospect will appeal to foreign direct investors provided that it is packaged attractively with various types of incentives that are reflective of the liberalization of policies.

Inorganic Foreign Direct Investment

Inorganic Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is established by purchasing a company and its operations in a target country. For example, if a wedding planning company based in the United Kingdom decides to purchase a similar company in Barbados, the resulting amalgamation can impact positively upon the host country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity. The financial resources retained from this venture can be redirected to focus on alternative areas of development within the tourism industry. Moreover, the foreign direct investor will simultaneously benefit.  The company already possesses its clientele from the United Kingdom; and the clientele will exponentially increase when services are marketed to potential consumers in the host country. Similarly, an affiliate agreement between a wedding company based overseas, acting as a broker for an identical company based in Barbados, can contribute to the increase of profit shares. The success of such a company is augmented by tax breaks, reduced tariffs and barriers and general deregulated economic policies that constitute the framework of Barbados’ open economy.

Exchange of Technology and Information

In addition, there can be an exchange of technology and information between the two countries involved in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) agreement. A more developed country with a larger population than Barbados, and by extension a larger target market of wedding planners, is likely to have acquired key skills in efficient mass production. The availability of new information and technological capabilities can contribute to a heightened competitive advantage over local businesses.

Although the tourism sector in Barbados has the capacity to diversify and develop, it is still the main contributor to Barbados’ economy. More significant to note is the sector’s commitment to youth and consequentially to sustainability. The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) collaborates with PomMarine Hospitality Institute to ensure that students gain a holistic education in Culinary Arts, General Catering and Hospitality Studies. This suggests that foreign direct investors who are interested in the wedding industry will have a constant supply of youthfully energetic workers who have been exposed directly to the operational functions of the service industry. Further, due to discrepancies in foreign exchange, the cost of labor would be comparatively lower, thus providing another incentive for foreign direct investors.

The wedding industry remains one of the most inexhaustible opportunities for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) although it remains relatively unexplored. However, if the potential is harnessed and the opportunity is critically examined, Barbados as a wedding destination will definitively serve as a perpetual magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and prove beneficial for all involved entities.

About the Author

Sonje Greenidge
Sonje Greenidge - Compliance Assistant, CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers

Sonje Greenidge is a contributor to the weekly column entitled "Millennium Voices" in the Barbados Today newspaper. She holds a degree in Sociology and Political Science but remains a diligent student of the universe. She is not inclined to refer to herself in the third person but is obliged to do so occasionally.