Unlike many competing destinations, Barbados does not have the luxury of large size and cannot restrict its tourism product to special zones, so all Barbadians are hosts to visitors here.
That is the base idea behind the formation of the National Tourism Host Programme (NTHP) Barbados Together drive, launched over the weekend with much fanfare in Queens Park.
Manager of Guest Experience of the newly formed Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) Marsha Alleyne said the programme would need the assistance of every person living here.
“The mission of the National Tourism Host Programme . . . is to guarantee that every guest that comes to our shores is embraced in a warm, Barbadian experience and, in so doing, ensure that Barbados becomes the number one destination of choice,” she said at the Saturday night launch.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy said Barbados is a small island state and “we don’t separate what we would call the tourism belt from the general population, like some other jurisdictions”.
“Our very small size and approach to tourism dictate that the tourism belt is indeed the entire country.”
Sealy said more emphasis was being placed on the involvement of every Barbadian in improving the island’s tourism product.
Recalling the previous national tourism slogan, “Tourism is our business, let’s play our part”, Sealy added: “Now what we are doing with the host programme is simply saying if it is our business and we must play a part, we have to understand it better. The NTHP’s goal is to enhance our knowledge base and raise the levels of awareness of the importance of the various facets of the country’s tourism products among those persons employed or associated with the hospitality industry, but with the general population as well.”
He said that to make this rebranded concept work, the BTPA has struck up strategic partnerships with the National Conservation Commission, the Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados Port Authority Inc, Barbados Cruise Terminal, the Royal Barbados Police Force, Sanitation Service Authority, the Barbados Youth Development Council, the Transport Board, Customs and the Immigration Department.
Representatives of the private sector, labour unions and the church will also be involved in planning the BTPA.
“Tourism does not exist in a vacuum. Therefore, its very existence depends on exploiting and developing the synergies with these various agencies,” he pointed out. “These stakeholders, in collaboration with a unit within the newly formed Barbados Tourism Product Authority, will be the two drivers of the NTHP.”
That unit will be referred to as Hosting Bajan Style.
As an array of performing artistes waited backstage to entertain the crowd, MC Mac Fingall also urged Barbadians to play their part, contending that tourism is all Barbados now has with sugar no longer bringing in the money it once did.
“Every person in Barbados has to consider himself or herself a host. It doesn’t make sense for the hotel to be cleaned and sheets to be done . . . and [there is] the beautiful view on the beach, and then when the tourists come outside somebody is abusing them,” he said.