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Agrofest and tourism

Today, I attended the launch of Agrofest 2013. This festival in my mind has huge implications for tourism and opportunities, which I do not believe have yet been fully explored.

From a pure tourism point-of-view, I have seen an interest being taken in this agriculture event from our neighbouring Caribbean countries. Some people came in last year to observe; some came to visit our places of interest. No matter the reason for visiting, they all would have added to our tourism arrivals.

Barbados has long been a market leader on many fronts and it is no surprise to me that other Caribbean countries are paying a close interest in our events here.

From a domestic tourism point-of-view, Agrofest generates the largest gathering of Barbadians next to Crop-Over. If our intention is to grow our domestic tourism and expanding our Staycation offerings, then having a bigger presence at the Agrofest would seem to be a natural fit. It is therefore surprising to me that we do not have a much stronger tourism presence taking advantage of sponsorship opportunities in order to get their message over to the locals.

In terms of additional opportunities, which I believe have not yet been fully explored, I feel that it is time someone develops a farm tour here in Barbados. Visitors are often interested in things educational and many visitors to the island have never seen a black belly sheep. Many of them cannot make the distinction between a goat and a sheep – and the beat goes on.

Take a look at the number of visitors that will make their way to Queen’s Park during the dates of the festival and get a true understanding of how interested our visitors are in learning about our agriculture. The same situation held true last weekend at Balls Plantation during the Plant and Flower Show.

We often take these things for granted, but there are things that provoke interest among our visitors. Our children and adults can also learn much more about our agriculture products if there was such a tour available. Many Barbadian children have never gone to the vegetable or fish markets and if they visit, they are unable to identify most of the vegetables and fish that are on display.

My question is, how we can continue to improve our tourism and create new initiatives which are exciting and interesting, if we know so little about the things that go into the product? How can we convince others to try some of our products, if we ourselves cannot explain them?

* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.

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