Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, has called on Red Caps at the Grantley Adams International Airport to see themselves as more than transporters of luggage.
In fact, Mr. Sealy made a special appeal to the younger porters to “continue the fine tradition”, as he addressed the opening of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority’s (BTPA) Barbados Together training workshop, held recently at the airport.
“Do not, even for a minute, allow anybody to make you believe that the work you are doing is not important. It is very important; Barbados needs tourism and you are on the frontline of that critical sector. Continue to look to improve your knowledge of the destination and think of all things that are positive,” he advised, adding that he was “extremely proud” of them.”
Pointing to the high level of satisfaction expressed by tourists with the service provided by the Red Caps over the years, the Tourism Minister emphasised their importance to the sector’s sustainability.
“It is those persons who interact with our visitors daily that make the experience in Barbados so special and it is in that context that the Product Authority is spot on in empowering the Red Caps to better understand the destination, so that some of the peculiarities we have to offer in terms of our heritage, etc., you can now speak on from a position of knowledge… and I think that is extremely important if we are to keep our visitors satisfied,” he remarked.
Chief Executive Officer of the BTPA, Dr. Kerry Hall, echoed similar sentiments, stating that the Red Cap’s occupation was “not just about bags”.
She explained that the workshop was designed to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve their interaction with visitors, particularly when questions arose about sites of interest and other aspects of Barbadian heritage and culture. In addition, she said, it sought to help Red Caps better understand the role they play, as they were among the initial points of contact for visitors.
“From a product knowledge perspective, you need to know what is happening on the island. Maybe before people figured you just move bags, but that is not who you are, that is what you do. You are frontline ambassadors, so you need to know about this nation…. So what I’m saying is that if people are asking which is the best beach, you should be able to give them a good suggestion, [and] where to get good local food,” the BTPA official said.
Dr. Hall further indicated that through the Barbados Together programme, the BTPA was able to educate many workers within the tourism sector about Barbados’ tourism product.
She, along with the Tourism Minister, expressed confidence in the Red Caps’ ability to continuously provide the quality service for which they have become known, especially by repeat visitors.