Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, delivering her State of the Industry media briefing this morning at the Hilton Barbados Resort. (BTMI)

With 35,000 people directly and 40,000 indirectly dependent on the tourism sector, it is essential for the industry to expand beyond tourists’ arrival numbers as it charts the way forward, in order to be competitive and sustainable.

This is according to Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, who was sharing some of the plans of the Ministry to build out the sector, during the State of the Industry media briefing, held this morning at Hilton Barbados Resort.

“There has been a historical conversation around tourism that has been driven entirely by how many planes are on the tarmac; how many people are getting off of those planes on the tarmac, and how many people are in our local hotels. We want to challenge Barbados and our stakeholders to go beyond just that, and we’re recalling this ‘the business of tourism’,” Minister Cummins stated.

She went on to explain that in order for Barbados to diversify its products and service offerings in the sector, ‘the business of tourism’ must focus on a more sustainable model that does not use arrivals as the only metric, but looks at visitor spend; immersion in “Barbadiana”; investment, and “getting more from less”. 

“We have to be able to derive resources, revenue, foreign exchange and jobs from sources other than pure arrivals alone,” Senator Cummins stated.

In order to expand and have a sustainable sector going forward, the Tourism Minister highlighted some of the projects that would assist, which are slated for completion by year-end, as well as what the Ministry would like to achieve by the years 2025 and 2030. 

These are: a new deal for tourism workers; completion of projects under the $20 million IDB National Tourism Progamme (NTP); a Domestic Tourism Survey; develop a new Sustainable Development Tourism Framework and accompanying legislation; complete a review of the TDA concession frameworks, especially as it relates to restaurants, and create a one-stop shop for concession approvals, and the launching of the Community Tourism Villages Project.

Expanding on two of those areas, Minister Cummins explained that “people who are comfortable on the job, give more, work harder, are more comfortable, and they feel a sense of belonging”.  So, she said, the new deal for tourism workers would be geared towards addressing benefits, severance and unemployment rights. 

In reference to the NTP, she disclosed that the car park at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society would be renovated and a visual project erected that would guide people to the location. 

Also, the Old Town Hall Building in Bridgetown would be transformed to a Visitor Centre and an Art Gallery.  Another component of the NTP would be an interpretive tour, which traverses to places designated as Barbados’ UNESCO World Heritage properties.

As for the future, the Minister said from 2025 through to 2030, the Ministry hopes to make Barbados a hub for regional travel in the Southern Caribbean; be an aircraft and ships registration hub, and have at least 10 tourism and tourism-related companies establishing a commercial presence in the region, thereby expanding jobs and earning foreign exchange to repatriate to the local domicile. 

It also intends to complete a nationwide hospitality retraining and upskilling of the existing workforce, and seek to make the country a world-class hub for tourism and hospitality training. 

Senator Cummins also disclosed that there are plans to have new greenfield investments in aviation services; for Barbados to be a global exporter of tourism businesses, and have a strong diversified market with airlift from every part of the globe.

She gave the assurance that the Ministry, and all of its departments, including state-owned entities that fall under its remit, would be doing their part to transition the industry to “gain more from less”, as it seeks new avenues for success.

“The world is slowly recovering from COVID-19, and Tourism and International Transport are leveraging the opportunity to return more dynamic, more inclusive, and to enter into new spaces,” Minister Cummins said.

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