Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson (centre), on tour of one of the??yachts. (a. Miller/BGIS)

Officers from the Customs and Immigration Departments and Port Health have come in for high praises after going beyond the call of duty on Christmas Day to facilitate the Classic Trans-Atlantic Race to Barbados.

Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, spoke highly of the officers, after yesterday’s tour of two of the 12 yachts involved in the Race which started in Portugal on December 2, and saw the first boat arriving in Barbados on December 22.

Speaking at the Inner Basin of the Careenage, the Minister emphasised that such efforts should be duplicated as Barbadians needed to understand the importance of facilitating visitors and those investing significant dollars into the country.

Mr. Hutson explained that some of the vessels arrived in Barbados outside of normal business hours. "Two of them came in on Christmas Day in the early hours of the morning," he pointed out. Despite these unusual times however, officials from the Customs and Immigration Departments, Port Health and the officer to lift the bridge were on hand to facilitate the arrival of the vessels into the country, process them and ensure they were berthed in the Inner Basin of the Careenage.

"Business facilitation is a challenge that we have in Barbados at this time. The example being demonstrated here by the officers involved with this project is tremendous, as it sets an example and sends a message to the other officers within departments, as well as those working in Barbados generally, as to how you need to be able to facilitate [businesses]," he said.

The Minister further stated that: "If you are on the Atlantic for three weeks, once you get to your destination you have to be able to put your foot up as quickly as possible. [So] we must commend the officers in Customs and Immigration and Port Health," he said, noting several words of commendation were received from the crew of the yachts for the support given.

Mr. Hutson warned that investors would not recommend Barbados to other potential investors unless the kind of service level required was provided. "So, Port Health, Immigration and Customs may be the upfront persons dealing with them, but there are other departments of Government that need to facilitate them when they are here. That service excellence, business facilitation aspect of the whole activity has to be emphasised," he stated.

The Minister stressed such actions by stakeholders formed part of the wider business facilitation for Barbados. He added that the race extended beyond the arrival of the yachts to Barbados. "Besides the berthing of the yachts here, many of the crew’s families flew into Barbados and are staying at hotels along the south coast and west coast. There is that knock-on event in terms of the income generation to Barbados from just 12 yachts," he said.

Senator Peter Gilkes, who also played a key role in the project, noted that the yachtsmen had complimented Barbadians in general for their hospitality and services during their stay. "They have totally enjoyed the experience in Barbados. That is what we need to do as a people," he remarked.

The Senator reported that the event sponsor had already indicated support for next year race would be back, and arrangements were already being made for the 2014 Classic Trans-Atlantic Race to Barbados.


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