Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds says the tourism industry’s end of year results for 2018 were “very good”. But he warns that gun violence can possibly put a damper on the sector.
Symmonds, who was speaking with members of the media on the sidelines of a reception for repeat visitors held at the Gun Hill Signal Station, revealed that the shooting in St Lawrence Gap last year could have left a bad impression on the visitors who witnessed it.
“Tourism is our business. Running about the street with a gun and shooting one another over foolishness is unacceptable! We have to spend long hours working on something that we shouldn’t spend long hours working on because we have to try to contain the fallout of every instance when that happens,” said Symmonds.
He pointed out that the marketing point of the island’s tourism sector of cleanliness, friendliness and safety was in a bind. He stressed that the threat to the island’s safety needed to be wrestled to the ground.
“We will destroy the Barbados economy if it is that we have people shooting one another because somebody get horn or because somebody’s girlfriend chose to be with another man. We have to come to an understanding that every time this happens we are losing a massive amount of not only money but our reputation is taking a massive hit out there.”
Symmonds also revealed that the recently established Cruise Development Commission will soon be providing a final audit of the ports of entry and overall visitor experience.
“ I think we have to sit with the people in the craft sector as a whole . . . I have told the BTMI (Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc) that we have to have an opportunity to bring all the craft vendors in Bridgetown onto Trevor’s Way on a Friday night. Bring with them the music and the food and we have an opportunity for visitors to experience Bridgetown by night.”
He argued that competitors across the region were creating opportunities for visitors to experience culture and the arts and Barbados could not afford to be satisfied with its current product while the industry was constantly transforming. (KK)