|This tourist takes pictures of the??net throwing competition??at the yearly Oistin’s Fish Festival which highlights Barbados’ fisher folk in Oistin’s Christ Church.?? (picture courtesy of Romell Yearwood)
The reasons for travel are innumerable; the destinations of choice, plentiful; and the experiences to be had, incredible.?? However, what makes any trip memorable is often the interaction with a country’s people.
With World Tourism Day’s theme of Linking Cultures, the vital and often forgotten role which culture plays within the industry has been given new life; a point underscored by Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President, Colin Jordan.??
He said: "World Tourism Day is a day to focus on one of the world’s largest industries. Implicit in its name is the understanding that tourism is a worldwide industry with global impact.?? One of the important facets of [the sector] is the bringing together of people and the encouraging of the transfer of knowledge and experiences between and among different cultures."
Mr. Jordan noted that the tourists who visit our shores do so, not only to enjoy the weather, but to partake in the distinctive Bajan lifestyle, adding that "… we must always be cognisant of that fact that we share who we are. We do not adopt the mores and traditions of others. We must always share an authentic experience…
"In Barbados we invite visitors from across the globe to share our heritage, our culture, and our uniqueness with us. We ask visitors to immerse themselves in our society while they relax and rejuvenate themselves, or attend a meeting or a sporting event. And while they are here we hear their experiences and vicariously share in their way of life," the BHTA President added.
|??Colin Jordan, President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA). ??(FP)|
Cross cultural transfer was another constituent which figured prominently in the tourist experience.?? Mr. Jordan revealed that the friendly and hospitable nature of Barbadians resulted in a high level of repeat visitors – who account for some 40 per cent of arrivals each year.
Although the main attraction to Barbados continues to be the Crop Over Festival and Kadooment Day, the cultural offerings have been growing to meet the needs of the increasing number of discerning tourists who demand more from a destination.?? The favourable response to last year’s Food & Wine and Rum Festival, which will be held again this November, revealed that culinary tourism has an important role to play within Barbados’ tourism product.
In addition, the Freedom Footprints Tour which highlighted communities relevant to the island’s slave history, enjoyed sold out tours during its pilot stage, which ended earlier this year.?? This level of interest illustrated that visitors and Barbadians alike were desirous of a new kind of offering; and the BHTA President believes that cultural attractions can deliver the kind of experience that visitors desire.
"One of the unique aspects of Barbados is its history, a major aspect being our iconic capital city, Bridgetown and its Garrison. Bridgetown was once one of the major port cities of the world in terms of the social and economic activity that took place. Located at the entrance to the islands of the Caribbean and the countries of Central and South America, it was the first stop on the TransAtlantic voyages of most ships and an important centre of trade and commerce.
|??Barbados Food and Wine Festival. (FP)|
"The Garrison is the second oldest British military garrison in the Western Hemisphere, and the Barbados Regiment is the second oldest British regiment ever, having been established just 10 years after the Scottish regiment. One of the most extensive collections of cannons in the world is to be found within the Garrison area," Mr. Jordan revealed.
Alluding to Barbados’ inclusion in the list of countries which boast properties deemed to be of ???outstanding universal value’, Mr. Jordan asserted that these sites must be preserved for generations to come.
"To be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a signal achievement and Barbados must be careful to cherish this designation by immediately implementing programmes that will allow residents and visitors to immerse themselves in the vast heritage present with us. Our 270,000 residents need to be given that privilege. The 1.2 million visitors that come to this country annually need to be afforded the opportunity to share this valuable treasure with us," he affirmed.
The BHTA President articulated that tourism would continue to be of paramount importance and "must not be taken for granted", as it ensured our quality standard of living.
|Victor Cooke gives?? historical background to the Newton Burial Ground, as part of the??’Freedom Footprints Tour’. (FP)??|
"Sustainability must include transmitting our values and our spirit of hospitality to succeeding generations, nurturing and preserving our natural and built environment, and collaborating in the development of other industries within the country.???? Tourism can be and must be the catalyst to develop a balanced economy, facilitating the growth of agriculture and manufacturing and strengthening the symbiotic relationship with international business," he observed.
With World Tourism Day to be observed tomorrow, Tuesday, September 27, Mr. Jordan expressed the hope that we would "recommit ourselves to investing in the industry and ensuring that the entire country benefits from tourism’s significant potential for facilitating socio-economic development".??