|Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (second from right) makes a point to the Technical Committee during the first meeting for the 8th Annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference held today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.?? (A. Miller/BGIS)|
The conference date is months away, but the Ministry of Tourism and its partners have already begun to lay the groundwork for the 8th Annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference (ADHTC), which will be held in Barbados from next September 16 – 19, 2012.
Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy expressed his enthusiasm for the project, not only for the cultural interchange and ideas which would be by-products of the conference, but also for the potential it held for travel from existing and potential markets, during the event and beyond.??
Mr. Sealy suggested that the ADHTC 2012 could serve as a launch pad for "more travel from people of African descent in our major source markets, [as well as from] some of our emerging source markets – Brazil, Panama – and other parts of Latin America that have large populations of [persons of] African descent, ???he noted.
In concert with Mr. Sealy’s sentiments, Minister in the office of the Prime Minister, Senator Darcy Boyce expressed the desire that two key outcomes emanating from the conference must be "a five to six year Action Plan which drives persons to Barbados and a refining of Barbados’ brand."
Elaborating on the rationale behind the conference, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Shelley Carrington, explained that ideally, the three day symposium would lead to the establishment of "heritage trails linking African diaspora traditions in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada, North and South America [and] the production of quality, heritage products that can expose visitors to authentic African diaspora history and culture".
Heritage tourism has continued to be an area of emphasis for the Ministry and has begun to garner increased attention, most notably with the UNESCO inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage Site, as well as with the launch of the Change of Sentry at the Garrison last week.??
In recognition of the United Nations having designated 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent, the Ministry of Tourism chose to launch the ADHTC this year.?? It is believed that the conference will bring rejuvenated focus to the rich history of the diaspora; offer insight into how to better appeal to heritage tourists and persons from the diaspora; and create a forum for collaborators dedicated to the creation and success of cultural attractions.
The ADHTC, which originated in Bermuda in 2002, was created to highlight tourism initiatives which bring African heritage into focus.?? The event has also been held in the Bahamas; Tanzania, Africa; and last year, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, known as the final point on the Underground Railroad, a system used for escape by slaves in North America.?? ??
The meeting, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, was also attended by representatives from the Barbados Tourism Authority, the University of the West Indies, the Barbados Community College, the Barbados Museum Historical Society, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Commission for Pan African Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Natural Heritage Department and the Ministry of Tourism.??