Cultural and Heritage Tourism are critical to the sustainability of the region???s overall tourism product.
So says Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, Celia Toppin.
She made these comments as she addressed the Caribbean Secondary Schools??? Drama Festival Youth Forum last Friday, at the Queen???s Park Steel Shed, Bridgetown.
Noting that the traditional tourist profile was changing, Ms. Toppin said it was critical to recognise this and react appropriately by developing products and services to enhance their experience.
???Many visitors to our region now come in search of a cultural experience that may or may not include the sun, sea and sand that we have highlighted for so long,??? she observed.
In fact, the Senior Cultural Official reasoned that ???high quality cultural activities, including theatre and film, must be added to our tourism offerings??? as this was now essential for capturing that demographic of tourists, who, when choosing a vacation destination sought a unique cultural experience.
On another note, Ms. Toppin lamented that while theatre in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago was ???alive and well???, this was not the case for other islands in the region.
She recalled that Barbados once had a vibrant theatre scene with theatrical offerings almost every month. Nonetheless, she said she believed that initiatives such as the Caribbean Secondary Schools??? Drama Festival could stimulate such activity.
She added the festival not only promoted drama within schools but also contributed to the overall development of students.
???[This] will ultimately ensure the provision of the raw material that is critical to the development and sustainability of the Cultural Industries,??? she said.
???It is my hope that regional Ministries of Education will recognise the role that the inclusion of culture and the arts in the school curricula can play??? in developing in our young students an affinity for discipline, a strong sense of identity and the ability to communicate and articulate their thoughts and feelings more effectively,??? she said.
Students participating in the Caribbean Secondary Schools Drama Festival hailed from eight regional countries including Barbados.