Tourism officials are giving the assurance that Barbados remains a safe destination, in light of the shootings that marred Grand Kadooment this year.
Gunmen opened fire on Monday on the crowd along a section of Spring Garden Highway, killing 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock of 3rd Avenue, Chapman Lane, St Michael and leaving at least 18 other people nursing injuries.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William Billy Griffith told Barbados TODAY while the shooting was regrettable, Barbados remained a very safe place for a holiday.
“The shooting incident was unfortunate and BTMI will communicate to all partners and stakeholders to reaffirm that Barbados continues to be a safe destination for locals and visitors alike,” Griffith said.
Another tourism official, who did not want to be identified, told Barbados TODAY the entire country should be concerned about the shooting, although it was an unusual occurrence.
“We believe the Royal Barbados Police Force are quite capable of handling the lawless elements in the country and we expect that will continue. Barbados is a very civilized country and we intend to keep it that way,” he said.
“It is a very unusual occurrence and I hope it never happens again. That sort of thing is not good for tourism,” the official added.
Bandleader of Xhosa Jeremy Nicholls also weighed in on the violence, telling Barbados TODAY the shooting was “a really sad situation” that did not augur well for the island’s premier festival.
He said such behaviour could cause the already ailing economy to lose out on valuable foreign exchange.
“It is terrible on the festival because once it goes on the front page when something like this happens it goes on the Internet the number of people seeing it . . . if we keep allowing these kind of things to happen where it threatens that [the investment in the festival], then it is really not good. It is not only about the money, it is also about other people,” Nicholls said, adding that he was concerned people would now become fearful of going on the road to even to watch the parade.
Meantime, Griffith said that “from the tourism standpoint” this year’s festival appeared to have been another successful one.
“We believe that tourism arrivals were certainly on par with that of last year, which was at a high point with the 50th Independence anniversary celebrations,” he said.
“The highlights for us would probably be the significant attendance of partygoers at most of the events. The buzz generated by the celebrities who were here was probably another high point. BTMI created a dynamic promotion, No Crew Left Behind, with major exposure in Trinidad, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and Bermuda with 25 prize winners participating in Crop Over. And there was significant social media exposure as a result,” the BTMI executive said, adding that the organizers of the Crop Over festivities, the National Cultural Foundation, had created a good balance of events over the two-month period.