Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (left), greets Barbados’ Ambassador to China, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford,??during a courtesy call today.

Ambassador to China, Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, today paid a farewell call on Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, at the facility named in his honour, where the two discussed issues related to tourism, past and present.

As he relived memories of his own tenure as a Minister of Tourism, Sir Lloyd noted his keen interest in the role of tourism in the economy. He said that the economic situation of the 1990s was such that "I had indicated tourism should be the lead sector." He stressed: "It was the lead sector that brought the economy out of its turmoil and we had some good support from the Board of Tourism."

While noting that it was his first call on individual Ministries before he embarked on his journey to China, he gave the assurance that he would work with the Ministry and its executive agencies "to achieve whatever goals are set".

Minister Sealy, acknowledging that there was some parallel in the economic situation today, agreed with Sir Lloyd that tourism would have "to pull us out". He explained the imminent restructuring of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) to Sir Lloyd and said: "We have to look at how we can more effectively deploy our resources, given that they are slim, to get the maximum returns. Restructuring is centred around the premise that the marketing of the destination and the tourism product and, those activities related to those areas, must be separated. "

Meanwhile, in a statement to the media following the courtesy call, Minister Sealy, emphasised that the Asian market had been identified for tourism. He said: "China held some opportunities for Barbados, both as a source market for tourists and tourism investment. In fact, there is an Asian brand that is already working on a project on the West Coast and that tells us that there are definite possibilities in Asia…"

Mr. Sealy also noted Government’s commitment to making the adjustment to the "public sector institutions that govern the tourism marketing efforts" and said that work was ongoing. "Yesterday I received a series of recommendations from the Board of Directors of the BTA, in keeping with the whole tourism restructuring initiative to make a number of adjustments to various contractual arrangements that exist at the BTA and this would see some adjustments to the way staff are deployed, both here, and abroad," he stated.

He indicated that further details would be forthcoming following consultations with Cabinet. "But, we would see some adjustments to our staff arrangements and this again is all in keeping with what we are doing to prepare ourselves for 2010-2011, when we start to pull out of the world-wide recession and start to do better in our existing markets and then as we look to new markets like China, that we would be better equipped to handle those challenges," Minister Sealy observed.

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