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HC tops speak-off contest

rhondathompson, [email protected]

HC tops speak-off contest

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A CALL HAS BEEN MADE  for definitive rules governing developments that block views of the sea and beach access.
Harrison College student Christopher Morgan, who emerged the winner of the tenth annual Ministry of Tourism annual speak-off competition, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday, said during his speech that it was time to identify heritage architecture and windows to the sea and mobilize and empower the relevant agencies such as Coastal Zone Management Unit, The Barbados National Trust and the Town and Country Planning Department that are responsible for them.  
This, he said, would prevent the loss of architectural and natural heritage.
Morgan was one of ten competition participants who gave stakeholders in the Ministry of Tourism some tips and proposals for bolstering the cultural heritage tourism and agro-tourism components of the Barbados tourism package.
Morgan, who has now been accorded the title of Junior Minister of Tourism for 2011-2012, said that Barbados had managed to successfully diversify its tourism product, but much more could be done.
He said that, ideally, tourists come to Barbados for sun, sea and sand but the majority would appreciate other attractions.  He referenced research conducted by Dr Keith Nurse suggesting that cultural heritage tourists would stay 34 per cent longer and spend 38 per cent more each day than other tourists.
Therefore, Morgan said, to ensure tourists stayed and spent more, Barbados must protect its assets, improve incentives and engage in promotion of the island. He suggested that modern technology be used to promote attractions, particularly at the airport Customs Hall, and that professionally produced videos could be used to promote places of interest to tourists as they wait to be processed.
Fellow Harrison College student Kemar Roberts placed second in the competition while Jane Small of St James Secondary School placed third.  All were awarded cash prizes and summer internships, while Morgan will represent Barbados at the regional level during the Regional Tourism Youth Congress 2012.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, who addressed the ceremony, spoke of the importance of the areas of agro-tourism and cultural heritage tourism to the local tourism product.
He said that agriculture and tourism could forge linkages to create a niche market for the island as has been shown through the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival.
Sealy explained that last year for the second instalment of that festival international and local chefs showcased their culinary skills by utilizing the produce and livestock of local farmers and attracted over 2 000 visitors, twice as many as in 2010.
The Minister of Tourism said that the area of culture heritage tourism was also getting his ministry’s attention.  
He said that with Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site last year, the Government was working to reap the benefits and had been formulating partnerships with the Barbadian diaspora overseas to promote the island.
“World Heritage is a significant brand which is known to have a multiplier effect on visitor arrivals. Hence it is crucial, as a mature tourism destination, that we utilize this opportunity to maximize the benefits for Barbados,” Sealy said.(LK)