Key stakeholders across all sectors in Barbados and a panel of global thought leaders were brought together at a ‘virtual table’ to discuss and propose ideas and strategies on how to reimagine its tourism product and services.
The ‘Re-Imagining Tourism in Barbados’ online consultation, which began this morning, is being hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank. It will run until March 31.
Minister of Tourism, Senator Lisa Cummins, in her remarks during the opening ceremony explained the rationale for the consultation.
“Without COVID-19 we needed to have a reimagining conversation around the tourism industry in any event, and COVID-19 has simply accelerated not just the advance of conversations on prioritising private sector led developments, it has prioritised the acceleration of our conversations on innovation and digitisation and transformation.
“It has accelerated our conversation on creativity innovation and bringing new ideas to the table and the tourism sector. Equally so, it has simply seen the acceleration of a conversation on reimagining the Barbados tourism sector and all of its related products and services in a way that brings us into the third decade of the 21st century,” Minister Cummins stated.
Pointing out that the tourism industry in Barbados had been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with devastating effects on lives and livelihoods of many Barbadian workers and their families, she stressed the urgency of reimagining Barbados’ tourism product, and highlighted the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Tourism Development Index.
Minister Cummins said: “I consider to be seminal in this time to tourism, the IDB’s Development Index, where it talks about the extreme outliers. Barbados was placed at number 14 in the Latin America Caribbean region with an index rating of 39.4, accounting for 40.5 per cent of all of our receipts, and almost 40 per cent of total employment. There is no question and can be no question that there has to be a reimagining of the sector that is so vulnerable on the one hand, is so well established on the other hand, and has such direct spill over effects into the wider economy, but also is in such need of immediate and urgent transformation.
“For tourism, the urgency is now, the time for action is now. And we are having this conversation today … because we are required. We are required by the time and space in which we are functioning to jumpstart a new inclusive tourism industry and that has to be the mantra that must guide all of our upcoming discussions.”
She shared her expected outcomes from the three-day online consultation which included: conversations around authenticity; practicality; feasibility; efficiency; cost effectiveness; user generated content; social media; digital analytics; digital marketing and the Barbadian identity – “how are we showcasing who we are to the world”.
Senator Cummins said that she hopes the strategies derived from the consultations would assist in repositioning Barbados as one of the world’s most sought after travel destinations.
Today’s session focused on ‘Travel and Tourism’. Participants discussed and proposed short and medium-term strategies on how to effectively have a safe reactivation of the sector, as well as how to reimagine Barbados’ tourism products and services which could enhance visitor experience.