Government officials are confident that yesterday’s renaming of Westbury New Road to Rihanna Drive will have a major impact on the country’s cultural and tourism industries.
Addressing yesterday’s ceremony, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart zeroed in on the cultural industries as one of the pillars on which Barbados’ future economic development will be built.
“Our policy is to promote the development of the sector by seeking to create the environment that will facilitate its growth, both in Barbados and the region,” he said, adding that the Caribbean as a whole had much to gain from the sector’s growth.
“Rihanna symbolizes for us the realization of the immense cultural potential in this nation and this region,” Stuart said before declaring that Westbury New Road will hitherto be called ‘Rihanna Drive’ in honour of the Barbadian superstar, who came home for the unveiling.
Apart from the name change to the street on which she grew up, Rihanna was also formally conferred with the title and instruments of Cultural Ambassador.
Hailing the development, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley said the move was in keeping with Government’s focus on the cultural industries.
“We want to bring Rihanna to the center of that and also . . . other ambassadors as well,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that “we want to be able to start to move Barbadians along the pathway where they believe that the cultural industries can be a part of the transformation of our economy”.
His colleague, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, also expects Rihanna Drive to redound to the benefit of the island’s bread and butter industry.
“I don’t think we should underestimate the impact this road has on the tourism sector,” he said while pointing out that on busy cruise days, the road, which was formerly known as Westbury, was already overflowing with traffic.
“I have seen it myself. It is almost like a traffic jam through here,” Sealy told Barbados TODAY.
“So it [the renaming] is a good occasion and I think it has certainly gone done well with Rihanna and her family also, and is as inspiration to young people,” he said immediately following the ceremony.
The minister said apart from heightened traffic, he also expects Rihanna Drive to be brimming with new business opportunities.
“I can see all sorts of opportunities again springing up in the area, I see t-shirts have already been done and I think it’s a great occasion,” he stressed.