The future development of the tourism industry must not be left to chance, but there must be a concerted effort from Government and stakeholders to provide strategic direction to this vital sector.
This view was expressed Saturday night by Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, as he delivered the feature address at the launch of the National Tourism Host Programme (NTHP), at Queen???s Park.
Acknowledging that this island???s tourism sector was complex, Mr. Sealy described the NTHP as a very timely initiative.
He pointed out that for many years, significant financial resources had been invested in marketing Barbados as a destination internationally, but the product had not been given the same high level of attention required.
???We have now reached a very critical stage where we have spent over 60 years in the business of tourism, and as with any business, we need now to see how best we can rejuvenate our product???.
???In managing our destination, we must consistently seek to deliver positive, memorable experiences and excellent value for money for our visitors. They must be encouraged to return and recommend Barbados to family and friends and we must ensure that this happens by providing the right type and quality of service,??? he stressed.
According to Mr. Sealy, in order for Barbados to remain viable within a growing competitive tourism sector, officials must ensure that the interactions of guests within the private and public sectors were of the highest quality.
He said the worldwide growth in tourism demand had resulted in unprecedented levels of competition among destinations, as they tried to capture an increasing share of the industry.
He noted that traditional and emerging destinations were investing in modern products and services and modern marketing strategies, as well as developing their infrastructure to meet the demands of the visitor.
???Barbados addresses all of those areas. But how can we develop a competitive advantage? That can only happen if we effectively manage what we have here in Barbados, and that is in essence an extended definition of what I was referring to as Destination Management,??? he stated.
The Minister pointed out that the National Tourism Host Programme reinforces the point that if tourism is this country???s business, then citizens must understand it better.
???So, the NTHP???s goal is to enhance the knowledge-base and raise levels of awareness of the importance of various facets of the country???s tourism product, among those persons employed or associated with the hospitality industry, but with the general population as well. And that is what we refer to as the Barbados Together element of the Programme,??? he explained.
He listed a number of stakeholders, including the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc., the Barbados Port Inc. and the Immigration Department, and said that those entities, in collaboration with the Hosting Bajan Style Unit within the Barbados Tourism Product Authority, will be the key drivers of the NTHP.
Mr. Sealy urged all Barbadians to give their unwavering support to the NTHP, reiterating that Barbadians must play their part in ensuring visitors enjoy their stay on the island.