Barbados is not fully cashing in on the US$4 trillion being generated by world tourism activities per year, and architectural historian Senator Professor Henry Fraser says Government needs a complete re-think.
Addressing the opening of FOROMIC Barbados 2012 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, he said government, tourism marketing agencies, travel writers, hoteliers and other stakeholders, required a total revision of their attitude to this country’s World Heritage status.
“To accept World Heritage status, to be sensitive to what it means, to recognise the vast numbers of travellers in search of sites of historic interest, and where sun and sea provide a delightful bonus, requires a complete re-think on the part of government and others involved in tourism,” the noted historian added.
He chided hotels in Barbados for not exploring “this great and glorious golden gift” of World Heritage status, citing research which showed that visitors interested in heritage, spend more money than the average sun-seeking tourists.
The retired Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the West Indies suggested that should Barbados .take advantage of World Heritage status, its greatest economic benefits would accrue from increased visitors and the expansion of the related tourism sectors.
He listed other non sea and sand areas through which this country could boost its tourism industry and economy as a whole.
For example, Fraser identified broader international investment opportunities which he noted, existed in art, especially fine art and fine craft, entertainment, including music, song, dance and drama and cuisine, with emphaasis on the creole nature of cuisine based on local products, and farming opportunity to provide those foods.
“All these areas of human activities present great opportunities through inlake with our new status, just as the recognition of the Pitons in St. Lucia has hugely increased global interest in that site and that island, and the naming by travel writers of the Pitons as one of the places of great beauty to see before you die,” declared Fraser.
He called, too, for the engagement of the local population in the appreciation and celebration of this island’s World Heritage status, which would require more intensive public education and units in the Ministries of Culture, Tourism and Education to develop policies and protocols to promote entrepreneurial initiatives.
“And a third, the creation of training programmes, which will train cadres of skilled craftsmen and a philosophy of appreciation, understanding and expertise in the restoration of historic sites and buildings, furniture and craft,, and even fine art, books and documents, all areas of greaat need and acute shortage right across the Caribbean,” asserted the acclaimed historian.
Fraser also hoped that the government’s constant promises to restore the old Empire Cinema into a centre for the arts, could result in action by Christmas.
He recommended that Barbados could better market itself through its embassies.
“Websites on Barbados are mostly the work of entrepreneurs. But our embassies provide great opportunities. I understand that Chile uses its embassies with great success. Each of our embassies can have a Barbados shop, for everything from pepper sauce, videos, books and music to tour packages,” he insisted. (EJ)