Master of Ceremonies, members of Cabinet, President and members of the Senate, Speaker and members of the House of Assembly, members of the Task Force of the National Tourism Host Programme, members of the Launch Committee of the National Tourism Host Programme, strategic partners of the travel and the tourism industry, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

Good Evening. I am delighted by the enthusiastic response of the Barbadian public to the launch of the National Tourism Host Programme (NTHP). It augurs well for the success of the Programme.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government???s principal objective with regard to the tourism sector is the attainment of sustainable growth for the sector. We therefore propose to optimize the use of our human resources and services, and to do everything in our power to conserve and efficiently manage our cultural, built and natural heritage in pursuit of sustainable development.

The Ministry of Tourism and International Transport will continue to deploy several policies and programmes in the marketing and product development areas to promote the sustainable development of the industry. These include the intensification of our marketing efforts in our key traditional markets as well as thrusts in new and emerging markets.

It is very important that we strengthen our product development programmes which are geared towards making a significant contribution to the enhancement of competitiveness within the industry. The NTHP is a critical component of product development aimed at improving the relationship between our guests and the Barbadian public. It will surely succeed if it is embraced by each and every Barbadian.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the leading international organisation in the field of tourism has taken note of what we are doing. I am pleased to convey a message from Mr. Carlos Vogeler, Director-Executive Secretary for Members Relations and Regional Director for the Americas of the World Tourism Organisation.

???Allow me to first of all, to express on behalf of UNWTO and the Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, our full support to the celebration of the Barbados Together ??? National Tourism Host Programme. Tourism has become one of the leading social, economic and cultural phenomena of our times.

In spite of persistent global economic and geopolitical challenges, tourism???s progress shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, few economic sectors are as strategically positioned as tourism to address the critical challenges of mass unemployment and protracted economic growth ??? by providing jobs and sustainable livelihoods, fostering inclusive development and uplifting millions from poverty.

By its very nature as a people-oriented activity and service sector, tourism fosters community development as it engages local populations in the tourism value chain, empowering them through education, skills and local governance.

Allow me to highlight some key policy issues that need to be considered if we want tourism to be a true driver of community development: promote inclusive tourism policies; encourage stakeholder collaboration; and promote value chains and integration.??

I am sure that the National Tourism Host Programme will be addressing many issues which will certainly boost Barbados??? potential as a tourism destination. I wish you success in your work and implementation of this Programme.?????

Ladies and Gentlemen that endorsement from the leading authority on tourism in the world speaks volume. We are certainly on the right path with this programme. Again, thank you for coming out in your numbers. Enjoy the rest of the programme.

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