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We can do it if we try!


Dr Frances Chandler

We can do it if we try!

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The resounding success of the Top Gear event at the outstanding Bushy Park circuit should give us confidence that “we can do it if we only try”. Top Gear is pretty much the biggest automotive show on the planet (www.dailytech.com).
We’ve been reminded that our future is in our hands; we must be masters of our destiny; we must set ourselves the goal of excellence in everything that falls to us to execute in order to take Barbados forward. We stepped up to the plate with the Top Gear event and we can do it for any other opportunity  that presents itself.
As Governor Worrell encouraged, we all need to emulate those, like the Top Gear Festival organisers, so as to achieve economic prosperity for Barbados.
The exposure of the island via this event would  have provided invaluable promotion of Barbados as a visitor destination, more so than any traditional marketing, so Barbados Tourism Authority must be commended on becoming involved.
But we must also measure quantitatively the immediate benefits via visitor arrivals and foreign exchange earnings. To do that we need accurate data for analysis.
Apparently, when St Lucia hosts a Jazz Festival for example, there’s someone posted near Immigration asking if you’re coming for that event.
I wonder if that’s done here. The hotels can measure the impact on their occupancy, but that’s not the total picture since not all visitors may have stayed in hotels. On that front, I don’t recall any report on the outcome of the Barbados Tourism Authority’s (BTA) Barbados Island Inclusive 2013 promotion, yet it seems to be back for 2014. We the taxpayers need to know!
There are many local businesses that have been proactive in seeking foreign exchange earnings by expanding into the Caribbean, South and North America as well as the vehicle business into China.
Kudos to these business owners, and we must emulate them. But the powers that be must provide timely facilitation. As someone said to me recently: “Many who have the power to improve things have a ‘corned beef and biscuits’ mentality and are satisfied with such, having no appreciation of and seeing no need to strive for ‘wine and filet mignon’.” He was referring to health facilities, but it’s applicable to all areas of endeavour. We must strive for excellence. We must compare ourselves to Singapore, not Dominica.
But fairness and transparency must always prevail. Concessions must be fair and equitable and we mustn’t sell our souls. For example, while the presence of the Sandals brand can probably do wonders for Barbados, we must avoid granting concessions which will be to the detriment of other sectors of society and we must ensure that enough of the proceeds remain in Barbados. 
On that score, I’m glad to see Sandals will be buying the St Peter property, rather than being handed it on a platter, although I find Mr Stewart’s seemingly compassionate reason a bit difficult to digest. Could it be that he’s feeling guilty for leaving one of our prime properties idle for so many years?
Coming on the heels of the Top Gear success was the news of  yet another Gold Medal for Barbados at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. The Barbados Horticultural Society has done us proud again with its 16th Gold in addition to 10 Silver Gilt and 1 Silver over its 27 years of competing. This year’s innovative Sailors Valentine exhibit was exquisitely executed by a group of volunteers along with many individuals and businesses working behind the scenes, who must all be cngratulated for their continuing efforts to promote Barbados. Again, the BTA is wise to be involved in this type of promotion. Our success could be further built upon by stimulating interest in the UK for local horticulture-themed holidays.
Add to that our success in hosting sailing events like the Fireball and 505 World Championships in 2010 and 2013. The Royalist Regatta, held here in 2010 (the first time outside England) was such a success that Barbados was chosen as the venue again this year. These events, executed by the Barbados Yacht Club and Sailing Association with BTA’s input, brought hundreds of sailors to our shores, with many describing our conditions as “champagne sailing”.
“We can do it if we only try!”
• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email [email protected]

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