Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins has come out swinging against critics of a vacation party experience scheduled to visit Barbados in less than a month as local promoters continue to be barred from hosting similar events.
In a statement released on Wednesday, in which she slammed some members of the public for using the situation to maliciously “inflame the passions” of Barbadians, she declared that organisers and patrons of Haywire Weekend would be subjected to all of this country’s COVID-19 protocols.
The “fast pace” [sic] event, which is scheduled for July 2-6 is marketed on haywireweekend.com as a homecoming event that offers exclusive access to two of the country’s premiere resorts.
Barbados TODAY understands that the West Coast hotels are members of a distinguished local hotel group that includes numerous world-renowned brands and properties.
When contacted, the group’s General Manager revealed that it was against company policy to disclose any information about current or future patrons.
Included in the packages offered are either standard or premium rooms at one of the “most idyllic locations” in Barbados, a professional photographer/videographer, and roundtrip airport shuttles. The flight, food, drinks and a resort security deposit come at an additional cost.
While the specific event does not specifically address the issue of partying or revelry, Haywire’s Instagram page advertises the Barbados event with photos of persons who appear to be engaging in forms of merriment that are currently prohibited by law.
When contacted, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kenneth George revealed that he had seen the advertisement, but was unaware of its origins and had not approved it.
“I know nothing about it. Nothing. My minister called me and asked me if I knew about it and I told him I wasn’t aware,” Dr George told Barbados TODAY.
Minister Cummins however acknowledged that whilst the Haywire event is neither hosted nor sponsored by the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), the organisation has been providing guidance on protocols “as we do for all travellers” including management of the Celebrity Millennium cruise earlier this week.
“It would be no different for the organizers of Haywire or any other group from anywhere in the world – white, black, yellow, blue, proposing to travel to Barbados because tourism is our business. What’s more, is that we also have to be confident in who we are and the fact that Barbados and Barbadians are about far more than excessive drinking and excessive feting. And that is definitely the case for our tourism product,” said Minister Cummins.
“It is unfortunate that some people who for their own purpose, would then take videos of events which occurred before COVID and present them for circulation to inflame the passions of Barbadians, as if events the entire world over have not had to change since COVID. We no longer do events the way that we did before COVID. So it just makes no sense for us to try to incense people to suggest that there is any reason why this would be any different,” the Government Senator added.
Cummins then slammed continued attempts by some to “stir up a false debate… to pit tourism and visitors against locals” at a time when thousands of tourism-dependent workers and businesses were clamouring to return to a measure of normalcy.
“That is not who we are. And I take strong objection to the views of some with their own agenda that suggest by their position and their stance that tourism workers and people who depend on the tourism sector, which remains our largest revenue earner, should not be able to eat or feed their families or send their children back to school until COVID is extinct from the earth. I feel as though we have to stand up for these people. “Barbados is safe and open for business, for tourism, as long as our officials do exactly what they do every day – guide potential visitors on how to observe and to have our protocols enforced,” the minister declared.
In a post dated May 19, Haywire informed patrons of the country’s updated COVID-19 protocols that allow fully- vaccinated travellers tested within 72 hours prior to arrival to freely enter the country after testing negative once more when they land. ([email protected])