Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy????

The Ministry of Tourism is actively engaged in diversifying this island’s tourism product.

This was underscored by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, as he addressed residents of Gun Hill and Newbury, St. George, last evening during a town hall meeting at the Nazarene Church of God. It was staged to discuss the proposed Barbados Slave Route Project, "Freedom Footprints, the Barbados Story".

He described the venture as "a wonderful …and a necessary project" since Barbados needed to diversify its product offerings, especially for repeat visitors who expected "to have newer and different experiences … that don’t necessarily offend the environment".

Mr. Sealy said: "The days of when someone is going to come to Barbados and simply leave with a tan earned from [being] on the sand and having had a dip in the sea to feel good- those days are over. People are looking for more than that. And, I think, therefore, that it is important that inspite of all of those good things…that we recognise that we are still developing a project that needs to be economically viable, be attractive,?? appealing and without offending the spirit of those souls that we are building this project on."

The Tourism Minister urged residents to get involved in the initiative, adding it was appropriate that the town hall meeting should be convened in Newbury, since it was one of the free villages settled by ex-slaves following the sub-division of such neighbouring plantations as Rose Hill Cottage and Airy Hill.

He underscored the fact that the slave route project had many advantages, since it would be: intellectually and uplifting spiritually inexpensive, environmentally-friendly and community-focused.

Mr. Sealy maintained that feedback from residents in the communities involved was crucial since they would comprise the nucleus of the exercise. "We have pledged …to bring tourism to the people and, therefore, the synergies that we hope to develop from these meetings will, hopefully serve us well," he stressed.

The new project is being developed around sites of across the Barbadian landscape that relate to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the slavery experience. Visitors and locals will visit such areas as the Gun Hill Signal Station and Sweet Vale, formerly Sweet Bottom in St.George; the Newton burial ground at Newton Plantation and Bournes Land in Christ Church; and the Cage in Heroes Square.

The town hall meeting was the second in the series aimed at familiarising residents with the newest initiative which is being developed by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS) in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism. It has its roots in the UNESCO/ World Tourism Organisation cultural slave route signage project and is aimed at providing tangible benefits to the community and garnering segments of the heritage tourism market.

Additional information on the project can be obtained by contacting the Ministry of Tourism’s Senior Development Officer Jacqueline Pollard at 430-7514; Development Officer, Selma Thompson at 430-7521; and the BMHS’s Marketing Officer, Christine Skeete, or Curator, Miguel Pena, at 427-0201. clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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