The Government of Barbados is fully committed to breaking new ground in many “non-traditional” tourism markets.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins made the pledge following a weekend visit by Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb when discussions began on a new air services agreement along with a memorandum of Tourism Cooperation between the two countries.
At an impromptu press conference Monday at the Grantley Adams International Airport ahead of Minister Al-Khateeb’s departure, Cummins identified Saudi Arabia as a gateway to cooperation with other states in the Gulf of Persia.
“I think one of the things we are very clear on in Barbados and in the Government is that we have to forge new friendships and new partnerships, new relationships that yield mutual benefits,” she told reporters.
“We’ve talked about the relationship with tourism and our traditional source markets and we intend as a Government and as a ministry to strengthen those relationships. But, equally, we also intend, and we have started as you can see, to forge new relationships with new partners in non-traditional markets and Saudi Arabia has demonstrated itself to be committed to forging that relationship.
“And I was happy to welcome our minister from Saudi Arabia here over the last few days to share with him why Barbados is that strategic new partner for Saudi Arabia connecting the Gulf states and here in the Caribbean,” the Tourism Minister added.
Over the weekend, the ministers visited some of the country’s main attractions, including George Washington House, the Pelican Craft Village and the country’s luxurious West Coast.
According to Senator Cummins, the two also discussed avenues for tourism investment by expanding room stock, real estate investment, and other developments that cater to high-end Saudi partners.
Minister Al-Khateeb said more visits would follow as the two countries seek to deepen their relationship.
“I had the privilege and the honour of meeting with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. We discussed all the areas of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Barbados, especially the areas related to tourism and therefore, we will continue the discussion,” the Saudi Minister promised.
“We will announce the MOUs very soon and we will build the bridges between the two countries. Barbados, for us, is a very strategic partner and friend. I feel at home here, I was welcomed by everyone, I enjoyed exploring Barbados for the last three days and I was amazed by the infrastructure.
“The people here and the food and everything were extremely positive and, therefore, the potential to work together and to share opportunities, especially investments and tourism, is massive. I also would like to take this opportunity to greet our Muslim brothers living in Barbados and I wish them all the best. We are recovering from COVID and I hope to see them in the holy city of Macau very soon,” he added.
Al-Khateeb noted that approximately 40 per cent of global travellers, based on 2019 statistics, are focused on sand and sea and, in addition to this, Barbados has everything to become one of the best destinations globally offering such an experience.
“I have no doubt that Barbados will be among the top destinations that offer the best value for travellers seeking sun and sea and the best experience. I can talk about how beautiful the ocean and the beaches are, the sandy beaches. We enjoyed the last two days experiencing how beautiful your sandy beaches are and the water is crystal clear.
Barbados is positioned to be among the top destinations when it comes to sun and sea. I wish you all the best,” he said. (KS)