Prime Minister Freundel Stuart last night hosted the first of four scheduled receptions in 2018 for repeat visitors, including eight who had collectively made over 250 visits to the island.
Among them, Nicole Forbes, Margaret Cuddihy and Roger Warren, who have each been to the island over 45 times.
“My Canadian children learned how to swim in the ocean here, and they’re 40 and 42. So I’ve been coming for a long time,” Forbes said, adding that her absolute loves are, “the sun [and] the people”.
Also, “I feel very safe here. I feel comfortable. I love the food, I love the people, I love the art [and] when I come here, it’s like coming home,” she said.
During last night’s event which was held at the Prime Minister’s official Ilaro Court residence, Stuart also had a good chat with Vincent Prager, who alone had racked up 60 visits; Roberto Menegati, who has been to the island 40 times and Donna Silberberg, a 32-time visitor.
He also shook hands with the husband and wife pair of Wood and Barbara Lockhart, who have been in Barbados on at least 30 separate occasions.
Asked what keeps him coming back to the island, Prager, who has been visiting at least three times a year since 1997, said, “I had breakfast with [Minister of Tourism] Richard Sealy this morning and he asked me that question, and I said, ‘it is the people’.
“This is such a unique country because the people make the atmosphere. Apart from [the fact that] it is a beautiful island.
“You have a lot of beautiful islands, but it is the worth of the people. When you arrive and you go to the immigration and the lady says, ‘welcome home’, I really feel good. I’m back home again.”
The Canadian visitor also said that ‘if I couldn’t live in Montreal, I’d live here.”
American visitor Wood Lockhart and his wife Barbara said that after travelling to several countries they decided to give Barbados a try. Since then, the couple has been hooked, with the Lockharts agreeing with Prager that there is something special about the island’s people.
“The people in Barbados are the most liked, friendly people that I’ve ever come across,” the husband said.
His wife quickly added: “It’s not only the beautiful salt air that we find here in Barbados, but the wonderful people.
“Barbadians have a dignity that you don’t find anywhere else in world.”
Hailing from California, the couple pointed out that it would have been a short flight to vacation in Hawaii, and though they have to endure a ten-hour journey involving two flights to get here “we come all the way to Barbados.
“It’s absolutely worth it. I don’t like Hawaii, I like Barbados,” Barbara said.
The retired couple started off visiting the island for five-day and seven-day periods, but since retirement they have extended their stay to three-weeks at a time.