From the giant Japanese Sumitomo Corporation, parent company of Mazda, through local motor dealerships, motor sport enthusiasts and leisure organisations to a growing number of tourists, Bushy Park Barbados is fast expanding its business profile. After nine months of redevelopment, the facility re-launched with Top Gear Festival Barbados in May 2014, since when it has hosted the Race Of Champions, Red Bull Global Rallycross and the Barbados Festival of Speed.
Now nearing the third anniversary of the reopening, operating company Bushy Park Circuit Inc (BPCI) is reporting significant growth in the early months of 2017 in a number of key areas, particularly Driving Experiences, where business has more than doubled compared with the same period last year.
BPCI Operations Manager Amy Willis said: “While our head-line events keep the profile of the facility, and the island of Barbados, in the public eye locally, regionally and internationally, we are open for all but three out of 365 days a year, so our other income streams are very important.”
The availability of the facility to host a test drive event during last month’s annual Mazda Caribbean, Central and South America Conference was a key driver in Sumitomo’s decision to select Barbados over other regional venues considered, bringing valuable foreign exchange to the island.
Nearly 40 distributors from 15 countries attended the two-day Conference, the first day of which featured presentations from Sumitomo and Mazda officials, also Regional Distributors, at the Marriott Hotel, followed by an awards ceremony rewarding various categories of performance. On day two, delegates headed to Bushy Park to test drive the all-new Mazda CX-3 crossover, many reporting how well the new model handled the corners, compared to competitor vehicles which were also tested on the day.
The conference was hosted by local Mazda dealer McEnearney Quality Inc, which beat much larger territories, such as Trinidad & Tobago, to claim the award for top Mazda sales in the region for 2016. Multi-brand dealership MQI had already used Bushy Park for a MINI Test Drive earlier in the year, and is planning a number of similar events in the coming months.
The facility offers Driving Experiences in karts, on-track and off-road, Suzuki Swift Sports and Radical SR3 sports cars. In round figures, comparable Experiences have attracted 44 per cent more people in the first two months of 2017, compared with last year – 684, as against 474 – while the introduction of Kidz Karting and Off-Road Karting earlier this year has boosted footfall by 250 per cent from 474 to approaching 1000.
Willis said: “We have seen a huge increase in the take-up of our Driving Experiences, particularly regular Karting, which has already more than doubled in the first two months of the year, compared with 2016. Over a weekend, we can see as many as 150 or so people come through the facility … and we’re really encouraged by the steady growth of tourist visitors, as that is an important area we have been working hard to develop.”
Not everything at Bushy Park needs an engine, such as the Barbados Federation of Island Triathletes (BFIT) Bushy Park Duathlon, scheduled for March 19, with the entry list currently heading towards 50; the run-bike-run event has two categories – Mountain Bike and Road Bike – each divided into classes for male and female, adult and youth, further divided into eight age groups.
Organiser Darren Treasure says: “Bushy Park is the perfect venue for a Duathlon. The safety of riding on a track without cars makes this a must for beginners and persons worried about road safety, while running on paved and unpaved paths around the facility (again free of vehicular traffic) lets athletes focus on their performance, rather than whether they are going to be knocked down.”
Willis concluded: “It is important for us to remember that many of the people who come to enjoy the Driving Experiences or an event like the Duathlon are completely new to Bushy Park, so could well be future patrons for other activities. And the growing interest from tourists is a real bonus, as we’re tapping in to a new market, that will bring in increased foreign exchange.”