Tourism boss warns that crime can hurt tourism
Crime, violence and social deviancy could place a choke hold on Barbados’ bread and butter industry, chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority Dr Kerry Hall has warned.
The top tourism official told a forum on crime and its effects on community-based tourism hosted by the St Philip Parish Independence Committee at the Princess Margaret Secondary School last evening that Barbados has attracted a “new type of tourist” that it simply cannot afford to lose.
“There is a new tourist out there that is driving what we call new tourism and this person is looking for more than a beach, they are looking to immerse themselves in the communities, in the culture of the destination. They want an authentic Barbadian experience.
“What I am saying is if this new traveller is looking to spread out and go into communities . . . if crime takes root and we cannot allow it to take root as for economic reasons. Barbados is the 15th most dependent country in the world on tourism out of 180 countries. That is serious, that means that anything that threatens [tourism] should be a cause of great concern to us all,” she maintained.
Dr Hall also revealed that the country has relied on the friendliness of its people, safety and the opportunity to relax as the three core elements that have been the foundation for the success of the tourism industry for 50 years.
“We cannot let those three elements slip away; they are the most critical,” she said.
“Tourism is also about bringing benefits to a nation; tourism is about ensuring; and what we want to ensure is that a wider cross section of Barbadians benefit from the prosperity that tourism brings. We want to spread the tourism, a special balance from the coastal part of this country into the rural areas, spreading that tourism dollar across this country and giving a wider cross-section of Barbadians an opportunity to interact and to benefit from that tourism dollar,” she added.
Past chairman for Crimestoppers Barbados Julie Dash made a similar appeal, stressing that Barbados could not afford to have its reputation for safety tarnished.
“Tourism being the goose that lays our golden egg we can not afford a single tourist to have a negative experience in Barbados. We just can’t stand it. We have to know that people can be safe here; we have been known as a safe destination for decades, we can’t let that stop now,” said Dash who is now the chairperson of Crimestoppers Bermuda, Latin America and the Caribbean.
However, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite said the country is still a safe place for visitors. But he maintained that the right message should be go out to tourists.
“Do what you normally do at home, apply the same common sense. Yes you are on holiday, yes you are in a more relaxed mode but because you are on holiday does not mean that you leave your bags and valuables in the car unlocked and go about your business.
“Barbados still remains one of the safest places to travel in the world. It still remains one of the safest places to travel in the Caribbean. So yes we have some challenges at the community level and we need to make sure that we take the message to our young men and women in terms of what impact their behavior can potentially have on the tourists,” he said.