Barbados’ High Commissioner to Canada, Reginald Farley, has described the We Gatherin’ initiative as a good start to a new relationship with the diaspora.
And, he is firmly of the view that a Diaspora Engagement Strategy should be developed to engage persons on matters pertaining to this country.
Mr. Farley made the comments today to the media, on the sidelines of the 31st Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“What we are seeking to do with We Gatherin’ is to not just create an activity that has a lifespan of a year. Barbados has to reset its relationship with its people who live overseas; we have more people who live overseas of Barbadian origin than we have Barbadians in Barbados.
“So, we have … to … recognize that this is a potential market for our music, film and products and we can learn from their ideas. Many of them have done well in the countries that they have chosen to go to. They can be investors; … many of them are making contributions of a charitable nature to the hospitals [here]; they are helping children in school; and some are giving some entrepreneurial finance,” he stated.
The High Commissioner said that about 87,000 Canadians visited Barbados in 2018, and of that number, about 6,000 were listed as people who were visiting family and friends.
He proffered the view that going forward, opportunities could be created for diaspora tourists, in an effort to increase their arrivals from six to 10 per cent.
“Many countries in the world have boosted their tourism by focusing on diaspora tourism and creating a specific product line …. So, going beyond Canada, we have Brazil, Panama and Cuba, where there are non-English speaking persons of Barbadian origin living there, who are curious about Barbados and want to come.
“Clearly, we have to boost up on [our] language and cater to their needs. The genealogy project, which is part of We Gatherin’, is going to give them an opportunity to check their origins. We can use We Gatherin’, not just to get numbers to come, but to reset our social engagement, political discourse, cultural reconnection and tourism, and create a diaspora product that will ensure that throughout the year, … we are able to look to Canada, US, UK, Panama, Cuba and Brazil to have not just citizens of those countries come, but people of Barbadian origin who are there,” Mr. Farley explained.
The High Commissioner said the Canadian team of the High Commission in Ottawa, the Consulate in Toronto and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., already had at least 50 engagements with the diaspora, in an effort to keep them abreast of what was happening.
Mr. Farley noted that there was great interest in We Gatherin’ by the Barbadian diaspora in Canada and said some will be home for the year-long celebration.