Tourism planners now have a new tool, described as world class, to boost Barbados’ struggling hospitality sector.
It’s a 200-page publication titled Island in the Sun — The Story of Tourism in Barbados, which was launched this morning at The Courtyard Marriotts in Hastings, Christ Church.
The book, an initiative of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, was jointly written by architectural historian Professor Emeritus Henry Fraser and Tourism Advisor/Consultant, Dr Kerry Hall.
Immediate Past President of the BHTA, Colin Jordan, who conceived the idea during his tenure some three years ago, told the gathering that the publication would assist in educating people about the real tourism product in Barbados with the potential of improving and sustaining it.
“This book will redound to the benefit of tourism and the country,” Jordan added.
He suggested that most Barbadians did not appreciate the true value of tourism to their livelihood and existence and education was the key to helping to change that. , who branded the publication as “the greatest book to come out of Barbados”, saw it as moving people away from the traditional marketing approach of sea, sand and sun.
The respected historian noted that several other countries possessed all three of those characteristics and did not have to come to Barbados for them. He suggested that what would work now for this country and that distinguished it from many others, was its heritage sites.
Fraser saw this new initiative, which traces the story of this island’s tourism over the past 200 years, as an asset to ongoing efforts to improve a declining tourism industry.
“Heritage will transform tourism in Barbados,” asserted the activist.
He was of the view that the book opened all the possibilities which this country’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation could offer to the hospitality sector.
“Heritage is one of the major solutions to transforming tourism in Barbados,” he reasoned.
As a member of the Task Force on Heritage, Fraser said proposals were being considered for the historic old Glendairy Prison on Station Hill and the Carneigie Library on Coleridge Street. He said he believed that story telling could be another part of the local heritage tourism.
Fellow author, Hall identified two of the key aspects of the book which she felt Barbadians needed to know. She said the tourism industry had its genesis in Bridgetown in the 1700s, where hospitality businesses were owned by Black and mulatto women.
She recalled too, that Barbados started as a health and wellness destination utilising the east coast, as well as a heritage market 200 years ago. In the original 800-page thesis for her tourism doctorate, which formed the basis for the book, Hall found that many of the challenges adversely impacting the sector today, existed in the 1900s.
For example, she noted, crime and harassment were rampant, and up until that time, Government did not provide “one cent” to the industry.
Also describing the book as world class, President of the BHTA, Patricia Affonso-Daas, said it now made the hoteliers’ choice of Christmas gift-giving easy.
Publisher Keith Miller told the ceremony the publication was expected to go on sale in bookstores tomorrow and was suitable for anyone’s coffee table as well as for academic study. A copy has already been presented to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. (EJ)