Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy has lauded the development of the island’s tourism product during his 10 years in office.
Speaking Friday night at a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) meeting in Parish Land, Christ Church, Sealy said tourism was responsible for decreasing the island’s unemployment rate, citing a drop from 12.3 to 9.3 per cent between 2014 to 2016.
“This Democratic Labour Party has been able to put tourism in a good place, been able to bring unprecedented levels of visitor ship to Barbados,” said Sealy, while adding that the last four years have seen record arrivals to the island.
“Importantly we haven’t only been just trying to get numbers here to count heads we have been trying to improve the experience they have once they are here . . . We as a government have focused heavily on trying to grow our tourism product and increase its impact on the economy.”
Sealy dispelled claims by the opposition or what he described as “Barbados Labour Party propaganda” that the number of arrivals did not equate to tourism spend, saying,“ask them to bring the proof!”
The representative for St Michael South Central went on to argue that the island’s tourism market is climbing to higher heights as it recently ranked number one worldwide in Best Visitor Satisfaction.
“We continue to attract new flights, more air lift from our major source markets, we continue to look for new source markets from winter . . . We are building the existing and we are also developing the new because we want to have an industry . . . that remains relevant, that remains robust,” he said.
“We will continue to steadily and deliberately develop this industry in a responsible and reasonable fashion. Our first 50 years were about social development and we have done well. Our next 50 years have to be about economic development and of course empowering our people,” Sealy added.