Visitors to Barbados often say the warmth of locals is the number one reason why they return to the island, and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) wants citizens to capitalize on that by embracing the concept of community tourism.
The BTPA says this niche provides the perfect opportunity for visitors and locals to interact. It has been working assiduously to further develop this niche with the launch of the Barbados Community Tourism Network (BCTN).
The network, which was formed out of a community tourism training programme held in 2017, is spearheaded by an executive steering Committee, consisting of representatives from various communities across the island. It aims to have all communities benefit directly and indirectly from the tourism industry.
”Our people are our strength, our greatest resource and the most important element of our tourism product. This means that we must develop sustainable avenues to encourage greater interaction between visitors and Barbadians,” explained Chief Executive Officer of the BTPA Dr Kerry Hall.
The BTPA held a monthly event – Speightstown Sizzlin – over the last two years in an attempt to revitalise Speightstown and offer both locals and tourists “a truly Barbadian experience”. However, the tourism entity is seeking a more structured, sustainable and long-term model to help develop community tourism on the island.
Seven areas have been identified as being suitable for tangible community tourism projects including Pinelands, Carrington Village, Grazettes and Black Rock, Church Village St Philip, Crane, Haynesville and Holders Hill, as well as All Saints Church and Mile and A Quarter, St Peter. Additionally, Pride of Wilson Hill in St John, Errol Barrow Park in St Michael and Central Close Community Park in St James were identified as peace parks. A trail consisting of the unique selling points of each village is also to be established.
“Through the Barbados Community Tourism Network, these communities will be fully empowered and are rearing to go. The BTPA will be by their side to provide the necessary business advisory services or technical assistance until they can take full ownership of their projects. The process has already started as we held the first town hall meeting in Haynesville,” Dr Hall stated. (PR)