Attracting a mere two per cent of the more than 400,000 Canadians who retire annually to Barbados’ shores can lead to a rejuvenation of the local economy.
Real estate development and marketing consultant, Robert “Bob” Verdun, had this optimistic forecast for the Barbados economy during an interview with Barbados TODAY.
Expressing confidence in the economy despite the current economic downturn, Verdun said: “There is no reason why Barbados cannot be as prosperous as Singapore. The island has so much potential . . . . there are 400,000 Canadians retiring every year and a third of these people have the means and the interest in looking for a place to spend the winter. The new retirees are looking at other places to spend winter. Florida is not appealing and they are familiar with the Caribbean.
“We just need to tap into the Snowbird market [people who spend winter in tropical countries] in a serious way. They are retired or semi-retired and just do not want to put up with the awful, long, cold winter,” Verdun added.
He maintained that if Barbados could get that kind of flow from ordinary middle class people from the north, the country could witness a turn around in its economic fortunes.
Voicing sentiments similar to those expressed by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur during yesterday’s debate in the House of Assembly on the compulsory acquisition of the land on which Sam Lord’s Castle is located, Verdun argued that tourism remains the major economic plank in New York, London and Rome.
“People keep saying that we have to restructure the economy, but what are we going to restructure it to? What is the number one industry in London, New York and Rome? It’s tourism, therefore why would we be looking for anything else when we have the best climate in the world, a stable and safe society and good health care?
“We should be having all the business we want. I do not think the Democratic Labour Party sees it any differently, they just have not yet figured out how to make it happen. There is a huge market to exploit. Get a small percentage of the market and this island will boom,” Verdun argued.