INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGES 2022
CEO -Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association
As we celebrate our nation’s 56th anniversary as an independent nation and our first anniversary as a Republic, we salute all Barbadians who have, through their efforts, helped to build this nation into a shining example on the world stage.
When one thinks of Barbados and the world stage, there are some names that immediately come to mind. However, it is what happens on these 166 square miles of dreams that lays the foundation for the success of Barbadians wherever they are.
This foundation laid is why, as a tourism and hospitality industry, despite the challenges that have faced the world since 2019 in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic with all its accompanying hurdles, we will recover.
Over the past year, we have heard from our tourism partners in our traditional source markets that Barbados remains a much sought-after destination for vacationers. This is due in large measure to the experiences delivered by Barbadians and the relationships forged by us with those who choose to make Barbados their home away from home when on vacation.
As the tourism industry and the country recover from the challenges wrought on us, there are other challenges that we face. These include the effects on the global economy of the Russia-Ukraine war, continued supply chain disruptions and the weakening of the British pound.
In addition, we have seen stories from across the world of staff shortages within the tourism industry, and we are no exception. Rather, we have lost some of our talent to other jurisdictions and operators outside of Barbados. This is testimony to the quality of the tourism workforce in Barbados.
It is when things are their toughest that we have to dig deep and dig deep we shall. We must address today’s issues while planning for the future of the industry and, by extension, Barbados’ economic well-being. In the interest of the Barbadian people, we have continued our dialogue with key strategic partners to seek to weather the storms.
We have moved to forge stronger relationships with other partners, while bringing new ones on board. In the past few weeks, we have presented scholarships to three students of the Jean and Norma Holder Hospitality Institute (JNHHI), enrolled in tourism and hospitality studies. We will shortly be making a similar scholarship presentation to the University of the West Indies. Investing in the future of the country is vitally important to us and we see this as one of the cornerstones to ensuring that Barbados continues to build on what has gone before.
Despite the challenges, there are opportunities, and we want to encourage all Barbadians to come together and turn the opportunities into real meaningful gains. Not just in tourism, but across all sectors of our society and economy. Tourism does not, and cannot, exist in isolation. We are dependent on and support the agricultural industry, the distributive sector, technological sector, security services and the cultural industries, to name a few.
The appeal of Barbados must be maintained, and we call on all right-thinking persons who reside in this beautiful country to stand up and speak out against anything that threatens our stability and that appeal that others are in search of. We stand ready to support the efforts of the Government of Barbados, in collaboration with other private sector agencies and the labour movement, to drive Barbados forward to higher heights.
Most, if not all, Bajans who have travelled have met persons who are excited when they hear that “you are from Barbados”. This speaks to an awareness of and enthusiasm for our country that we must seize. The exploration of potential business from new source markets continues as a matter of business, and if you are like me, you are smiling every time an aircraft passes overhead on its way to land at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
After taking the brunt of the impact from 2020, the cruise sector is also showing promising signs as travel confidence has re-emerged. Barbados will see 16 new cruise vessels calling on the island for the 2022/2023 cruise season. Additionally, there is an increase in homeport activity, with one of the largest vessels to homeport in Barbados, the Arvia from P&O cruises.
We are heartened by the new and refurbished hotel, restaurant and attraction product on the island, and we must and will let the world know that we are back and open to receive them with the love and attention to which those who have visited us before have become accustomed.
The BHTA is proud to be celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and will continue to host a number of events into next year. On Friday, December 9, 2022, we will host our feature event, our first awards ceremony in four years, having not been able to host the event in 2020.
This awards ceremony, The Gallagher BHTA 70th Anniversary Awards Gala, will be held at Sandals Royal and commences at 6 p.m. We are proud to partner with Gallagher as the title sponsor, and during the evening will be presenting 15 awards to business and individuals, celebrating excellence in the tourism industry.
It is customary for the immediate past Chairman of the Association to recognise an individual who has made a sterling contribution to the industry with a Lifetime Achievement Award. This year two Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented, there not having been any presented in 2020. As this is a celebration of the members of the BHTA, one of the awards that is keenly anticipated is the Employee of the Year, and we look forward with bated breath to the announcement of this award.
As we speak about celebration, let me take this opportunity to say thank you to all persons working in the tourism industry in Barbados for your commitment to building this industry, which contributes to the Barbados that we know.
Thank you, particularly for the resilience demonstrated over the past three years!
Thank you in advance for what we will do together in the years to come!
I again wish all Barbadians, by birth or by choice, and all who hold Barbados close to their hearts, a happy 56th anniversary of Independence and a happy first anniversary as a Republic.
Let us all recommit to this nation’s growth for the benefit of future generations.