This week, I played tour guide to a visiting colleague from Aruba who had never visited Barbados before. When I first took the decision to stay away from the office for an entire day to play tour guide, I kept questioning myself as to whether or not I was making a wise decision, given my extremely busy schedule. At the end of the day, I believe that it was the right decision.
As I toured this island, I was able to listen to the view of someone who was visiting the island for the first time, but who had visited several other islands and lived in various parts of the Caribbean. The first thing that I wanted to know was – given his tremendous travel experience within the region, how comes he had never visited Barbados before.
I found the answer quite interesting. Even though my colleague knew quite a bit about the island, his work assignments never led him to and he was never inspired to come here.
As we travelled along the coastline of the island, my guest kept remarking about the quality of life, which he was noticing. These sentiments were based on his engagements with Barbadians and his examination of the infrastructure of the island, the roads, the houses etc. Another thing which was made evident to me was how pretty Barbados is.
Remember I started out by saying that this person was coming from Aruba, but seeing the bougainvillea in full bloom and in all colours to him was breathtaking.
By the time we had completed the day, my guests had concluded that he would definitely be coming back to Barbados. He also picked out a few favourite spots to which he would return and share with friends and family.
On the other hand, I was left feeling challenged. At the end of the day, I wandered how often we as Barbadians stop to recognise what a beautiful country we have. In recent time, I have heard many people complaining about how dry everything is, without recognising that plants like bougainvillea are at their most brilliant bloom during the dry season.
The biggest challenge I faced however, was the question as to whether we’re doing enough with the Barbadian Family and Friends programme. Here was an American, who had many years travel experience throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean; someone who encountered many Barbadians over the years in his various capacities, and yet Barbados was at the bottom of his travel list.
I still feel that we have to find additional ways to get our overseas Barbadian communities using their influence to inspire more visitors to come to this island. We at home also have to become more engaged, take a day to re-explore our own country and rediscover how beautiful Barbados is.
* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.