Barbados is a destination that encourages its visitors to experience and explore its communities.
So says Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, as he addressed the Martin’s Bay, St. John edition of the Bajan Expo series, last Saturday. The event was organised by the Ministry of Tourism.
“There are many very popular destinations that when you land at the airport, you are put in a coach and you are taken to an all-inclusive hotel; and you leave that property when you are returning to that same airport to go back home. That is not what we offer as a destination. We like to encourage our visitors to go out and experience and explore,” Sealy said.
He explained that the Bajan Expo series highlighted to Barbadians and tourists alike, several communities that “are true treasures of this land”.
Noting that these districts were places that “our tourists want to experience and [that] they want to be immersed in”, he pointed out the expositions were being done to enhance community tourism.
“As we continue to focus more and more on heritage and culture tourism, we have to see to it, that what we are doing at the community level is elevated and seen as a legitimate part of the tourism experience and something we have to develop,” the minister emphasised.
He added: “[It is] something that we have to market and something [which] differentiates us from other tourism destinations around the world. Therefore, it is our responsibility at the Ministry of Tourism to see that we continue to expose these nuggets.”
He outlined Martin’s Bay, Chalky Mount, Oistins, Paynes Bay, Moon Town and Lemon Arbour as neighbourhoods that are perfect for community tourism and reasoned that “even in the urban areas there are a lot of communities that our visitors enjoy and want to go and have an authentic Bajan meal, or the opportunity to acquire some unique piece of handicraft”.
Sealy assured those at the Martin’s Bay event that his ministry was committed to continuing the Bajan Expo series.
“The demand is actually quite great. The Bajan Expo series has reached the point where community leaders are now calling on the Ministry of Tourism to ‘bring one of those expos to us’ because of all it can do. And, so, we are going to continue to have these expos. Yes, resources are limited, but at the same time we are going to make it possible,” he asserted.
Observing that Martin’s Bay was becoming a popular spot, he said: “It cannot be any surprise to anyone that we are here in Martin’s Bay, because I suppose one of the worst kept secrets in Barbados is the fact that this community has been emerging as a significant gathering point for many visitors to this country.
“The same way that you hear about Oistins, Paynes Bay, Moon Town and Lemon Arbour, you are hearing more and more about Martin’s Bay. The snappers on Thursdays that can’t even fit on the plate; the secret is out! We are very happy to see what is happening with our expos and what they are doing in the name of community tourism,” Sealy said.