Barbados must move with haste to cash in on the benefits to be made from the fast-growing cultural heritage tourism niche.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy offered this suggestion to scores of preservationists attending the 1st Caribbean Conference of National Trusts and Preservation Societies today at the Savannah Hotel.
Noting there were significant gains to be made from cultural heritage tourism, Mr. Sealy said. ???There is ample evidence now that cultural heritage tourism is indeed one of the fastest growing segments of tourism. Cultural heritage tourism is now widely recognised as???it becomes an important item for tourism policy makers worldwide.???
The Tourism Minister said the modern tourist was no longer interested in the leisure experience but instead wanted to ???immerse themselves in the cultural [activities] of the country they were visiting. ???This is what they say they want and we have to respond,??? he stressed.
???I believe that our built and natural heritage will add tremendous value to our overall tourism product. The World Tourism Organization is unequivocal in its assertion that tourism has to become one of the major players in international commerce while representing at the same time, one of the main income sources for many developing countries???,??? Mr. Sealy underlined.
He described the Caribbean as the most tourism dependent region in the world and pointed out that the industry was the ???lifeblood??? of the economy for most countries.
Mr. Sealy praised the work of the Barbados National Trust for leading the effort in preservation for the past 50 years. He also publicly commended Professor Henry Fraser, for his literary work on preservation.
???I want to salute the Barbados National Trust and all the trust and preservation societies across the Caribbean for the work that they are doing [by] building excellent relationships with citizens and visitors alike through various programmes to highlight the importance of preserving our built heritage,??? he added.
The Conference, which began today, continues tomorrow with a full day of activities including a discussion by former director of the Trust, Penny Hynam, and architect, Bruce Jardine, on Restoration of George Washington House- Challenges and Solutions in a Developing Country.
There will also be a plenary discussion on the National Trust???s goals, policies and strategies. It will end on Sunday, May 11.