Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy??

Another step towards the creation of a tourism master plan was made today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, with the launch of the discussion process for the White Paper for Tourism Development.

In jump starting the initiative, Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, said he was pleased that this move had finally been made:?? "There was a Green Paper done previously, but a Green Paper is merely a series of proposals for discussion, they do not constitute Government’s policy.?? However, we are going to produce a White Paper, we are going to lay out the administration’s policy and proposed action; and out of the white paper, we will have the Master Plan," he assured.

The Green Paper, which dates back to 2001, led to the development of a Discussion Paper, which was formulated to identify, evaluate and analyse current tourism policy on the island. The issues identified in the document, in turn, will be addressed in the White Paper, which will provide a broad strategic policy framework for tourism development. The Master Plan will then provide the structure for implementation.??

At today’s launch, Dr. Sherma Roberts, Chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council, also elaborated on the purpose of the policy. ??"The impetus came from the Minister, who has tasked the Tourism Advisory Council with the mandate to develop a Tourism White Paper…we have had a number of changes in the external and internal environment, such as SARS, security issues…which need to be taken account of in a policy document. The role of the White Paper, therefore, would be to establish a socio-economic environment that will enable tourism to develop and prosper in a sustainable manner," she revealed.

Members of the public – from the business community and artisans, to students, the elderly and the diaspora – are expected to play an important role during this period, and there will be opportunities to share ideas and concerns about the direction of the document.?? ??

A series of town hall meetings will be held and the Discussion Paper will be made available to the public at post offices, libraries, the Ministry of Tourism and on the Ministry’s website in the coming weeks.??

Minister Sealy opined that it was crucial for persons to acknowledge the importance of the industry, and by extension, the validity of policy development.

He said: ??"Barbados has been involved in the tourism sector since the 1950s, and we have 13,000 people that are directly involved in the industry.?? As the driver for many other sectors of the economy, more than that number is relying on tourism for their employment, so we definitely need to have a proper policy framework going forward."??

He stressed that it was not good enough that development within the sector should be done in an ad hoc manner. "I am therefore, excited that we are able to fulfil a manifesto pledge and bring a holistic approach to tourism planning," he noted.

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