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Tourism official concerned about garbage and crime

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William Griffith says while 2015 was a “turnaround” year for Barbados’ bread-and-butter industry, he remains concerned about two issues, namely crime and recent garbage pile ups.

“We look ahead to 2016 and I see a lot of positive trends that are in the offering. I see us being able to capitalize on, to a large extent, the Barbados 50th anniversary of independence,” said Griffith in an interview with Barbados TODAY, in which he called for the island to address its garbage disposal problems.

“What I find concerning – and there have been some discussion on it – is the amount of trash that exists on the island and I think that needs to be addressed,” said Griffith.

“We have come through a challenging period with Sargassum weed this past few months and I think that everyone has taken a breather so to speak because it is definite that the quantity of Sargassum has abated significantly in [recent times] and we hope it stays that way. But I think the advent of Sargassum certainly has taught us a lesson that there are elements that can affect our business in ways that we haven’t even anticipated. So I think it speaks to how much our readiness has to be,” he explained.

With Barbados recently voted destination of the year by international and regional agencies, Griffith said he did not believe it was only because of the amount of business generated, but because of the quality of what was being offered.

And he encouraged officials in the industry and all stakeholders to continue to work together to maintain that ranking.

Stating that crime was always a concern around the world, and acknowledging that it also existed here, Griffith said he was more concerned about how it was reported.

“I think that definitely it is something that has to be addressed by the authorities that deal with it and behind the scenes our partners at the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and everyone in Government. We are very serious about how we approach the relevant authorities in terms of how they manage it and how they deal with it. But I think that we are in a very vulnerable position as a destination when it comes to how we headline our stories about what is happening on the island,” he said.

Overall, though, Griffith said he was “absolutely pleased” with the performance of the industry in 2015, pointing to the double-digit growth in all major markets for every month.

“I think the trend is for 2015 to be what I call a turnaround year for sure,” he said, adding that he was now focused on how that growth would be maintained.

“It is all about sustainability . . . We have no intention right now to be a one-hit wonder,” he said.

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