By Caribbean News Now Staff
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (GNC) — Barbados Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, said that his Ministry was actively engaged in diversifying the island’s tourism product, as he spoke this week during a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed Barbados Slave Route Project, "Freedom Footprints, the Barbados Story".
|Barbados Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy|
He described the venture as "a wonderful …and a necessary project" since Barbados needed to diversify its product offerings, especially for repeat visitors who expected "to have newer and different experiences … that don’t necessarily offend the environment".
"The days of when someone is going to come to Barbados and simply leave with a tan earned from [being] on the sand and having had a dip in the sea to feel good – those days are over,” said Sealy. “People are looking for more than that. And, I think, therefore, that it is important that in spite of all of those good things…that we recognise that we are still developing a project that needs to be economically viable, be attractive, appealing and without offending the spirit of those souls that we are building this project on."
The Tourism Minister urged residents to get involved in the initiative, adding that it was appropriate that the town hall meeting should be convened in Newbury, since it was one of the free villages settled by ex-slaves following the sub-division of such neighbouring plantations as Rose Hill Cottage and Airy Hill.
He underscored the fact that the slave route project had many advantages, since it would be “intellectually and uplifting spiritually inexpensive, environmentally-friendly and community-focused”.
Sealy maintained that feedback from residents in the communities involved was crucial since they would comprise the nucleus of the exercise.
"We have pledged …to bring tourism to the people and, therefore, the synergies that we hope to develop from these meetings will, hopefully serve us well," he stressed.
The new project is being developed around sites across the Barbadian landscape that relate to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the slavery experience. Visitors and locals will be able visit such areas as the Gun Hill Signal Station and Sweet Vale, formerly Sweet Bottom in St.George; the Newton burial ground at Newton Plantation and Bournes Land in Christ Church; and the Cage in Heroes Square.
The town hall meeting was the second in the series aimed at familiarising residents with the newest initiative, which is being developed by the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS) in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism.