GUEST COLUMN: For tourism’s sake
A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided. – Tony RobbinsAGAIN I find myself compelled to comment about what is happening in the tourism industry in Barbados. For years I have heard fellow members in this industry cry out about the issues that are seriously impacting their operation – with little or no action by the authorities empowered to ensure the viability.At the time, I was not directly connected to the industry, and hence did not fully understand their frustrations. That situation has changed and I now fully appreciate the sense of helplessness, shared by these pioneers in tourism.Two articles caught my attention in Tuesday’s Daily Nation of May 11 under the headlines Call To Action and Safety First. In the first instance president of the Barbados Association of Public Secondary Schools, Winston Crichlow, coincidentally a former teacher of mine, was stating his opinion on the non-action of relevant entities in this country.He said: “Our society suffers from inaction, where we look at the causes of problems; but there is no will to take the next step.”I agree with Mr Crichlow. This paralysis has taken root in our society, and primarily in Government agencies, where I fear that the prognosis for improvement is bleak. “This culture of non-action is so ingrained in our being, that I don’t believe we have the will to respond. When this is coupled with the added ingredient of politics, I fear that the issues will never be addressed, except in the form of “think tanks” and “talk shops”.The other article has Acting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart saying that rising crime rates, harassment of visitors and drug trafficking are critical issues threatening the sustainability of Caribbean tourism.Here, Stuart is looking at the issues from a regional perspective. In essence, these situations not only impact tourism in Barbados, but in the wider Caribbean. There is of course a direct link between drug trafficking and beach harassment, as any individual in the industry would be aware. Hence, if we can control one of these problems, we will see a reduction in the other. Thus, I’m in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed by Stuart. What I would like to know now is what are we as a country going to do about it? What plan of action will the Government come up with to stem the rising crime rate, the beach harassment of visitors and the drug trafficking which are adversely affecting our tourism?When will these plans be put into operation? Which agencies are responsible for ensuring that each area gets adequate resources to combat the particular problem? Who will be held accountable to ensure that results are obtained and who will have responsibility for maintenance of these programmes?These are the questions I would like to have answered. But will anyone answer them? I think not.We will continue to analyse the problems, identify the issues and speak glowingly of how we have to control these problems for the sake of our tourism industry. Or we will attempt to take action far too late and be unable to save the industry that is our main source of economic development.Let us put politics aside and truly to understand the impact of our lack of action over the years. Successive governments have failed to support the private sector in its attempts to address pertinent issues like beach harassment, which adversely affect the tourism. Their lack of support is cloaked by the passing of bills in the House of Assembly, but the true nature is revealed when despite these laws, policies and procedures, no agency is held accountable when it is clear that they are not actively enforcing the laws, policies or procedures.However, I do not want to dwell on things in the past; what I’m interested in is the future. Thus, I am asking the Government of this country what are we going to do about the problems identified by the Acting Prime Minister in the aforementioned article. I await your answer. This article was submitted as a letter to The Editor.