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Cultural tourism on the cards

Gercine Carter

Cultural tourism on the cards

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Barbados is looking to cultural heritage tourism as it seeks to diversify its visitor attractions.
Minister of Tourism  and acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy said yesterday the island had joined a number of tourism destinations across the globe that are now targeting this niche market which is already providing business for the island. He disclosed 10 942 visitors came to Barbados last year to explore the island’s cultural heritage and he anticipated those numbers would grow.
This sector has shown particular interest in the island’s newest attraction, the Barbados Slave Route Heritage Trail called Freedom Footprints: the Barbados Story Trail and Tour which Sealy said had “already been piloted successfully in the tourism market place.”
With Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison now declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is anticipated there will be even more interest in the island’s historic landmarks.
Full exposure will be given to all Barbados has to offer in cultural heritage tourism when an anticipated 300 participants from Africa and its diaspora come here in September for the Eighth Annual International African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference (ADHT).
Addressing local tourism stakeholders at the official launch of the conference and its website at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday, the Tourism Minister said Barbados’ involvement  in the conference “sends a clear signal to the international community that we are serious about preserving our African history and heritage and about developing a sustainable and viable heritage tourism product”.
The ADHT meeting provides an annual forum for showcasing the relationship between culture and the sustainability of the tourism industry. It is also a networking opportunity for participating tourism destinations from territories linked by the  transatlantic slave trade and the slavery experience.
Speaking to the media after the launch, new president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Patricia Affonsa-Daas, welcomed the idea of hosting the conference in Barbados.
“I think it is a wonderful opportunity to bring some visitors in at a time that is traditionally a slow period.
The theme for the conference is Our Freedom, Our Identity, Uncover, Recover, Discover.