The addition of a worthwhile feature to Barbados’ tourism landscape was the focus today, at the inaugural meeting of a task force on the development of a National Tourism Host Programme.
The meeting, which was held at the Ministry of Tourism, Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, was addressed by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, who acknowledged that the endeavour would augur well for the industry.
He noted that the programme would take tourism awareness to another level, as all persons in and around the sector should know its basics. Sealy added that best practices and models were used from the Bahamas and Jamaica.
“The concept was developed earlier this year… We are now going into the implementation phase,” he said, adding that agencies involved were the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, the Barbados Private Sector Association, the Barbados Christian Council, the Tourism Development Corporation and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados.
Speaking about the structure of the Host Programme, Sealy explained that there were two elements: “The Barbados Together component seeks to improve the knowledge base of hosts through education and awareness capacity building actions.
“The Hosting Bajan Style component, on the other hand, seeks to improve the institutional and policy framework with Government, in an effort to ensure the destination retains and improves its competitive edge, nationally and regionally.”
Offering additional information about the undertaking, lead consultant for the project, May Hinds, explained that “the National Tourism Host Programme was designed to realise Barbados’ potential as a tourism destination, as it seeks to sustain a culture of excellence in all aspects of the destination’s management”.
Noting that the aims of the programme included relationship building and ensuring that there was the provision of accurate and useful information, Hinds said that anyone in the island could register for the programme.
Highlighting the importance of various sectors to the industry, Tourism Consultant noted that “we tend to speak a lot about the direct tourist entities — hotels, the restaurants, the attractions. We sometimes speak about the indirect tourism service entities — suppliers of linen, china and so on…
“But then we have, in Barbados, a growing trend as pointed out by the research we did … [where visitors] are taking the Transport Board buses, they are using the PSVs and, therefore, the supermarkets, petrol stations, hospitals, banks, all of these induced tourism service entities, we really need to bring along as we move forward,” she asserted.
Hinds revealed that the certification process would include 40 contact hours, followed by a test, with recertification to be completed every three years. She added that the next steps towards the creation of the National Host Programme included the identification of funding sources, the completion of the facilitators guide and workbook and engaging with strategic partners.