French Ambassador to Barbados, Jacques Sturm, making a point to Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Steve Blackett, during their recent courtesy call. (A. Miller/BGIS)

There is a promise from the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Steve Blackett, and French Ambassador to Barbados, Jacques Sturm, to explore new avenues for cooperation that would enhance the existing relationship.

The two counterparts gave this undertaking during a courtesy call today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Culloden Road, St. Michael, headquarters.?? Ambassador Strum was accompanied by the island’s Honorary Consul to France, Don Chee-A-Tow.

During the meeting, the Minister spoke of the need to attract more French visitors to the island given the vibrancy of the industry in both countries.

Ambassador Sturm, in turn, threw out a number of suggestions on how Barbados could woo more French visitors to these shores by using cultural events as the "drawing card".

He conceded that the 5,000 that visited Barbados annually was not enough; while the Honorary Consul, Mr. Chee-A-Tow, mentioned ongoing discussions that could possibly lead to Air France flying to Barbados and French Guiana.

Ambassador Sturm pointed out: "At present, most French tourists go to Martinique and Guadeloupe for obvious reasons – the language style, the currency and the food are the same and I am not sure that there are big groups who will want to come just for the sun.?? Do they want to come and face other cultures overseas??? I am not sure.?? What we are going to work on is not mass tourism but a niche of what I call cultural tourism."

He further stated: "These types of tourists are the ones who want to get out and see aspects of the island’s culture and this is what we need to work at. In this regard, Barbados needs to have welcoming personnel that can speak French."

The Ambassador also mentioned how the hosting of literary arts festivals could be also used to attract French visitors and if this came to fruition, the Ambassador said this would "be another avenue to further shape the Barbados/French relations".??

Minister Blackett said there was exposure to the literary arts during the annual Crop Over Festival and during the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) competition.

Barbados and France established diplomatic ties in May 1968.


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