An initiative to get more local communities involved in tourism and to create a more authentic Barbadian experience for visitors was launched yesterday.
Park Road, Bush Hall was the site of Community Tourism Contact Day, which featured cultural presentations and entertainment.
The Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, sounded her full support for the event, saying it would bring communities to life for visitors and lead to greater returns for the bread and butter industry.
“Research has shown that typically the new traveller in a quest for authentic experiences embraces more and more opportunities to become emerged in the culture of a destination. Community tourism provides these experiences and rebounds to the benefit of the community and by extension the country.
“So . . . then, visitors to Barbados, notwithstanding the climate and the natural beauty of our island, are particularly interested in experiencing what is uniquely Barbadian,” the tourism official said.
Citing the popularity of local hotspots – Oistins Fish Fry and Lemon Arbor – the Senator stressed that the ultimate travel experience involved tourists interacting with locals in their own environments, participating in local events and by eating and cooking local delicacies.
The initiative also got a nod of approval from Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development Steve Blackett.
He told the launch that allowing tourists into the “real Barbados” would enable guests to experience the island’s best, noting, “when we ourselves become tourists, we look forward to visiting the intimate places of the countries that we go to and engage with the people on the ground, to see how they live and enjoy what is truly culture in a down to earth manner”
Minister Blackett added that bringing the tourists out of their hotels and into the community to interact with locals would create a distinctive travel experience.
“In Barbados, we want to give the tourist another unique experience. That is why, there is a deliberate attempt to develop the community product which will bring tourists in direct contact with the people that they would not ordinarily meet if they remain behind the walls of their hotels,” said the Minister of Community Development.