For many years, I have been seeing the movement of our neighbors from other Caribbean islands to Barbados during the Crop-Over Festival. This year I somehow feel that this movement is getting bigger and that is a good thing.
The one island that I believe is creating a bigger movement is Trinidad and Tobago. It has been my observation that more and more entertainers from Trinidad have been making it across into Barbados specifically for the festival. Of course, Barbadians have been going the other way as well.
Last night I attended the opening of the Sir Garfield Sobers Annual Cricket Tournament and again, the number of fellow Caribbean people in attendance was impressive. Once again, I could not help but notice that there were five teams present from Trinidad and Tobago.
The point that I am hoping to demonstrate here is how vital the Caribbean is to our tourism arrivals and especially Trinidad. There are various times of the year when the Caribbean takes over as the third largest source market for the island.
My observation is that this region becomes our third largest source market when we need the business most, during the off peak periods. The region that competes with the Caribbean for that third spot is Canada and it is not difficult to understand why. During the winter period, it is extremely cold in Canada and hence many Canadians, especially retired Canadians, head south and some of them for lengthy periods.
Our neighbours from the Caribbean are always here and that must not be understated. Not only are they here for Crop-Over, but for all of our other festivals and activities you can count on them.
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the cost of travel within the Caribbean region, and the length of time it takes to travel between us. I would like to suggest that this is a problematic issue for us here in the Caribbean and one, which we as Caribbean people must fix.
This region is far too important to all of us not to sort it out. I am speaking from a Barbadian point-of-view and I am almost certain that this issue holds a similar level on importance to almost every Caribbean country. Some other Caribbean countries are even more dependent on a reasonably priced and reliable service than we are. Because the larger aircraft cannot land in some of these islands, they are therefore dependant on these larger aircraft landing in Barbados and having the passengers travel onto the other islands.
*Tourism is our business, let us play our part.