|Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner. (FP)|
Barbados needs to redouble its efforts to "cash in" on the benefits from the??multi-million faith-based tourism industry.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, made this observation last Wednesday during the official launch of Gospelfest.?? It was held at Divi Southwinds Hotel, St. Lawrence, Christ Church.
Stressing that faith-based tourism was a multi-million dollar industry that transformed the moral fabric of the society, she revealed that in the United States the industry’s worth was US$10 billion.
In light of this, Senator Sandiford-Garner urged tourism officials and other players to use every opportunity to grasp the financial gains.
"The Barbados Tourism Authority has been marketing faith-based tourism as an area of tremendous potential for growth and the Government has invested considerably in product development and international marketing of Gospelfest," she said.
Reflecting on the island’s religious background, Senator Sandiford-Garner said there were over 100 denominations islandwide, several church buildings of architectural significance and meeting facilities for revivals, retreats and conventions.
These characteristics, she added, lent themselves to the twinning of faith tourism with meetings, incentives, conferences and events to market.
Emphasising that the festival allowed Barbadians to place their problems on pause and focus on the Almighty, Senator Sandiford-Garner said the festival had made significant strides in its 21 years of existence.
"…We can truly say that this festival has come of age…It gives us the opportunity to work with each other and to demonstrate the love and unity that is essential for our faith whatever our beliefs may be," she added.
The Parliamentary Secretary said gospel music brought good news unlike the negativity that was often portrayed in the media and she declared "it is time for Barbadians to receive good news and from May 19 to 26, that is what they will get".
Senator Sandiford-Garner said Gospelfest was quality entertainment for all ages and served as a forum for uplifting moral values that helped the youth and others in the society to reverse negative attitudes.
She also said that the youth attending the event would receive spiritual fulfillment and expressed the hope that they would grow in the faith long after the show had ended.
"As we launch Gospelfest after the Easter holiday, let us all recommit ourselves to God and the message brought by the Saviour," Senator Sandiford-Garner underlined.
Some of the featured artistes for the May event will include Canton Joseph, Mali Music, A Few Good men and John Yarde.