|??Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy|
The importance of the various niches of tourism and facilitating those who drive the industry has been underscored by the Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy.
His comments came last Saturday, as he addressed the Atlantis Submarines Barbados 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, at Hilton Barbados.
Mr. Sealy observed that Atlantis Submarines continued to be a trailblazer in the sector, as it succeeded in embracing the eight pillars of tourism development.?? He noted that one of those pillars, product development, was a crucial element in the evolution of the industry.
"Without the product, there is no tourism.?? If we wish [for] tourism in Barbados to survive, we must place great emphasis on product development…Barbados is paying special attention to cultural heritage tourism, sports tourism, faith-based tourism and events tourism," the Tourism Minister noted.??
He revealed that outreach programmes would be undertaken which "aimed to sensitise the local community about the benefits of the UNESCO sites to Barbados and to Barbadians" and the Barbados Tourism Authority was looking into the potential of religious conferences, retreats and ceremonies being hosted here.
It was the area of sports, however, which Minister Sealy highlighted as having potential which "cannot be overstated".?? He said that "we have a long history of excellence in sports, cricket stands out, but it is noteworthy that there are presently over 60 disciplines of sports practised on the island.?? With this strong base, the development of sports tourism is one of the primary strategies being undertaken by government to bolster the Barbadian economy, particularly over the trough periods – over the past two decades, several world class sports events have been held in Barbados," he remarked.
It was in this vein, Mr. Sealy revealed, that the Ministry of Tourism, with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat, was "currently developing a strategy for sports tourism in Barbados… This is expected to be completed shortly and will provide a blueprint for [this] niche," he said.
Efforts to strengthen the sector, Mr. Sealy noted, would also include additions to the list of tax exempt items as provided in the Tourism Development Act.
"This Act makes available a wide range of concessions to tourism investors.?? Tourism is a very vibrant and dynamic industry; the [Act] has to be flexible in order to keep up with the demands of the industry.?? Some items required by the sector that were deemed as luxury items, five, [or] 10 years ago are no longer deemed as such.??
"Recognising this fact, and acknowledging the strident lobby from the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, my Ministry is currently fine tuning a proposal for consideration of the Cabinet, which recommends the expansion of the range of items that investors and operators in the sector can access free of duty under the Act," he disclosed.
The Tourism Minister lauded Atlantis Submarines Barbados for its contribution to diversifying the industry and encouraged the company to "build on its offerings".?? He also thanked Atlantis Submarines International for the faith it had shown in this country many years ago when it set up offices here.