The hometown of international superstar Rihanna is quickly gaining popularity around the world, with Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy reporting today that it was already a major attraction for tourists.
Last Independence Day, the area formerly known as Westbury New Road, St Michael, was renamed Rihanna Drive, in honour of the pop star, one of this island’s cultural ambassadors.
Speaking in Parliament today during debate on the Land Tax Amendment Act, Sealy attributed much of the attention being given to Rihanna Drive to the work done by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), saying that Government agency was largely responsible for that project, which has since given the island a lot more exposure.
“Westbury New Road is now known as Rihanna Drive and the Barbados Product Authority has been working with the residents in the area . . . and the residents are going to start to benefit from the large numbers,” said Sealy.
“In this cruise season we have estimates of up to 1,000 people passing through Rihanna Drive. It is, according to taxi drivers, of recent note, the most requested place to visit now since we have done our work and with the social media blast that would have gone out around that event, but again the Product Authority work with the Ministry of Tourism and coming up with something creative,” he said.
Pointing to other examples of the work carried out by the BTPA since its establishment almost four years ago, the Minister of Tourism also lauded the agency for helping to breathe new life into the quaint northern town of Speightstown, St Peter.
Sealy’s praise of the BTPA followed a hint given by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that the tourism agency could soon be getting some additional staff.
Stuart did not say how soon or how many people would likely be added to the team. However, he pointed out that given the level of work being carried out by the BTPA there would definitely have to be some additional staff.
“The truth is you can only market if you have a product, and if the contents of that product are very clear. And three years after the creation of the BTPA the Government is satisfied that that product authority has made a significant contribution to the clarification of what it is that Barbados is actually marketing as part of its tourism exercise.
“I think that given the work being taken on now by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority that there will have to be some staff adjustments by way of increase, because product is very important to the marketing effort . . . . I know that there is much more work that the Barbados Tourism Product Authority wants to do but it is at present hamstrung, as I have been advised by people in the authority itself, by the fact that they need a few more hands to help them in their efforts,” said Stuart.