The long-awaited Tourism Master Plan for Barbados is expected to be ready by September this year.
Saying he recognised the plan had been promised for a long time now, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy revealed to the annual general meeting of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning, that the plan would be ready “in a couple months”.
Sealy said the White Paper on Tourism and the Vision Statement, which have already been approved and made public, would be guided by the Master Plan. He said the Master Plan was nearing completion and would set out the actions to be taken.
The minister said the publication of these documents would not mean the end of the process. He suggested that the country would have to identify its weaknesses and implement solutions for the future improvements for this vital sector.
Sealy stated that the White Paper, which formed the future vision for the development of the tourism industry, acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges faced by the sector over the years, had been the lack of a clearly articulated vision.
“This, in turn, has resulted in ad hoc, disjointed and reactive approaches to tourism management and development. Therefore the White Paper which passed Parliament December last year, will be followed by a Tourism Master Plan, which will contain the specific strategies and plans necessary for our vision to be realised,” added the minister.
“So we have a vision, we have a statement of policy and we will soon have a Master Plan, all one following from the other,” continued Sealy.
He noted that all of the Government’s tourism strategies, policies, plans, programmes and initiatives will have the objective of meeting the over-arching vision, which is expanded in the White Paper.
“The image will focus, not just on beautiful beaches and pristine waters, but also on our heritage,” he added. “This new focus will encompass the built heritage which is preserved in our buildings, as well as in our intangible heritage, portrayed in our traditions, mores and expressed in our culture.” Sealy said the Barbadian tourism product also included the island’s epicurean offerings, ranging from local to international cuisine. Included too, the minister added, was the island’s capacity to host world class sporting, entertainment events, festivals and wide variety of nature-based activities.
He informed the AGM that emphasis would be on high-yield customers, while trying to increase arrivals. This, Sealy, assured, would be achieved through service quality, efficiency and competitiveness.
He said the idea was to give visitors the opportunities to have a memorable experience by interacting with citizens and participating in the Bajan way of life. The tourism minister indicated that health and wellness would also be part of the new tourism focus. (EJ)