Barbados will build resilience in its tourism sector going forward by changing the mind-set of how the sector is viewed, and its complete value and supply chain locally and internationally, and developing new policies and finding new ways to monetise the industry.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, expressed this view recently as she delivered the feature address on the second day of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados’ (ICAB)’s annual conference.
Senator Cummins noted that Barbados’ tourism sector was navigating through turbulent waters, exacerbated by the advent of COVID-19, but now was the perfect time to revitalise the sector.
“In order for tourism to plan for resilience there has to be a paradigm shift in how we see tourism. The first thing has to be that we have to stop thinking about tourism as simply visitors to our island arriving by the planeload, checking into lush or budget hotels. We have to look at it as a complete value and supply chain that has an entire ecosystem that exists globally and locally,” she maintained.
Senator Cummins pointed out how every sector and industry is connected to tourism, and with an assessment of the entire value chain, improvements can be made to the sector.
In addition to reviewing the value chain, she suggested, a business model reform stemming from the identification of interfirm revenue, diversification of business science, monetisation of service lines and goods, an emphasis on cost efficiencies through increased dependence on disruptive and innovative technologies, is also required to build resilience.
“This, … will help us to navigate not just these turbulent times but new turbulent times that may be ahead, in a way that allows us to be resilient, build new bridges, create new strategic opportunities for our citizens at all levels to be empowered, in order to transform our economy into dynamic enterprises and dynamic structures in a post COVID-19 era,” she stated.
The new inclusive tourism model will require cross-disciplinary teams and skills development that transcend marketing, hospitality and hotel management, as well as new innovative ways to monetise some of the island’s offerings.
The Senator disclosed that currently the Ministry and key players in the tourism sector are using this “downtime” in the industry, to build an entirely new inclusive tourism model, including plans to launch a new virtual marketplace.
“We are preparing in the Ministry to launch a new virtual tourism marketplace that integrates elements of every single sector and creates what we call online commercial real estate. With people moving or not, there are revenue options to be earned.
“Why are we not using the iconic images of Harrison’s Cave, of Welchman Hall Gully for people to be on running trails. Why are we not using it for gaming? All those are monetisation opportunities that are available on a 24/7 basis in a digital economy,” Cummins outlined.
Minister Cummins acknowledged that Barbados would always be vulnerable to external shocks, but it had to assess and mitigate risks, and move into the fourth decade of the 21st century, “with a model that is fit for purpose”.
“So, we stand ready in the Ministry and across the sector to partner with every industry to broaden our scope and create new opportunities,” she affirmed.