Tourism enthusiasts, economic planners, visitors and students should now have a better understanding about the economic contribution of tourism to Barbados??? development for more than 300 years, with the availability of the 192-page book ???Island in the Sun ??? The Story of Barbados???.

The book, which was written by Professor Emeritus, Henry Fraser, and Independent Tourism Consultant, Dr. Kerry Hall, was launched last Thursday, during an official ceremony at Courtyard Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church. It was published by Miller Publishing.

Executive Vice President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, (BHTA) Susan Springer, said she conceptualised the idea for the publication of a ???coffee table-styled book??? on the industry in 2002. However, due to financial and time constraints the project was put on hold.

In 2010, the Executive Vice President said discussions on the book resumed and under the tenure of the then BHTA president, Colin Jordan, work on the publication began in earnest.

Mrs. Springer said: ???We have seen so many stalwarts, professionals and people, that have contributed so much to the industry as we know for the last 60 years and it was imperative that this chronological story had to be captured. Unfortunately, many of the people that could give us the stories have actually passed on and it was necessary that we had all of their input.???

In his remarks, Mr. Jordan lamented that while many people had heard the slogan ???tourism is our business,??? they did not understand the meaning of this statement because of a lack of education about the industry.

???I am from a background where you sell stuff and if it costs BDS$2 and a tourist passes by, it automatically becomes US $2. Having this background, I am fully aware there???s a lot of education that needs to be done in order to bring Barbadians on board with tourism, what it really is all about and how it contributes,??? he remarked.

Mr. Jordan said he hoped that the publication would ???outlive all of us and added: ???We often speak to sustainability in our tourism and I want to say that tourism is still the industry in this country that has linkages with almost every other sector, employs people across the board and it is the industry that we have to make sure it is sustainable,??? he emphasised.

Meanwhile, the current BHTA President, Patricia Affonso-Dass, described the book as a ???world class publication??? and encouraged BHTA members and the wider business community to support it.

???The launch is timely as the book makes an amazing memento of any visit to Barbados and we hope that all Barbadians, and people visiting, would take a copy back home with them as a memory of Barbados. Anybody who picks up this book and looks through it, I don???t think can walk away without a far better understanding of what tourism means, really means to all of us. For this reason, I am so grateful that it [book] has been done,??? she underlined.

Author of the book, Dr. Kerry Hall, spoke about its importance, and why all Barbadians should purchase a copy. ???Tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner and it is the engine of growth that drives the island???s economy. We find that there is a dearth of understanding about the industry and a disconnect between the average Barbadian and the industry. In order for tourism to survive, we need buy-in from Barbadians who need to see themselves reflected in the Barbadian tourism mirror,??? she added.

Dr. Hall said the book would give Barbadians a greater understanding about the ???true growth??? of the tourism industry. ???Tourism did not start in the 1950???s, as many of us thought. In fact, the industry started in the 1700???s in an embryonic form as a hospitality industry in Bridgetown. The socio-economic development of Barbados runs parallel to the development of tourism and by taking people back to the beginning, I hope that they would want to embrace it [the industry] and play a greater part [in its development],??? she noted.

Co-Author, Professor Emeritus Fraser, mentioned the importance of heritage tourism and the UNESCO World Heritage Inscription and its role in transforming the island???s tourism product.

He said the sun, sea and sand would no longer give the island the competitive edge, and added: ???There are beaches in the Seychelles, in Negril, Jamaica and the Bahamas, those beaches are generally bigger. We do not have the 365 beaches of Antigua; we haven???t got the 365 rivers of Dominica, but we have the 365 historic buildings of Barbados. Heritage tourism with the UNESCO World Heritage Inscription, will transform tourism in Barbados.???

He said the book was the greatest publication to come out of Barbados and thanked all of the players involved for ???putting their heads and hearts together??? to bring the project to fruition.

The book is available from Miller Publishing, Pages Bookstore, the BHTA and other major book stores.

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