Officials consider roots tourism
Local officials have identified genealogy tourism as a niche area on which they will seek to capitalize.
Manager of Innovation and strategy at the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) Terry Vanterpool-Fox said Barbadians locally and abroad had a keen interest in learning about their family history.
As a result she said the BTPA would be working closely with the Archive Department to develop that niche and capitalize on the earnings potential, as that aspect of the tourism market becomes more popular.
“We believe that there is so much to learn within our history as it relates to a person’s genealogy . . . The interest in tracing ones roots is growing at a rapid pace,” Vanterpool-Fox said.
The Acting Chief Executive Officer acknowledged that while genealogy tourism was not new, it was not actively promoted in a coordinated way in the past.
“We at the Barbados Tourism Product Authority are happy to partner with the Archive Department to promote this viable emerging niche while building awareness of the role of the Archive Department,” she told Friday’s Genealogy Extravaganza on the grounds of the Archive Department.
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley said the event, which formed part of the forth-biennial three-day Barbados Network Consultation Diaspora Conference, marked another chapter in the island’s heritage.
He, too, acknowledged the significance of genealogy for both locals and those in the Diaspora, stating that he was fearful if more Barbadians did not pay attention to their ancestral roots they would lose their identify.
“I dare say if we do not connect to our roots then we lose our identity as a people. It is very important for us to understand that,” Lashley advised.
“Of course we also have to pay close attention to our Diaspora because we believe our Diaspora is indeed a very critical part of who we are as a people.”
Lashley, who was presented with a copy of the book, Bengal to Barbados by author Sabir Nakhuda, said genealogy tourism was a niche that was overlooked, adding that it was about time the island capitalized on the vast opportunities it provided.
“As countries become more multicultural and the question of identity become a more serious factor in the development of one psyche, knowing ones roots assumes great importance,” he said, pointing out that research showed that genealogical tourism was a growing segment of the tourism market that needed further exploration.
“I contend that it is an area which holds many possibilities for Barbados. It is on that premise that we welcome the support of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority, which I am sure is cognizant of this important matter and is positioning itself as an organization to fully explore its full potential,” Lashley added.
During the morning session of the Genealogy Marketplace at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre Professor Pedro Welch gave the audience an insight into how some of the local names came about, pointing out that they came from a mixture of Creole and Coromante, among others.
Adding that there had been some changes to names over the years, Welch informed the attentive audience that research showed that many of the last names were either given at baptism, based on what some parents liked or from plantation owners since many slaves only had one name.