FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Well done
We constantly hear that the private sector’s role is to do business while Government is to provide regulation and an enabling environment. When this happens, remarkable things can be achieved. Successes in sports tourism are testimony to this. The private sector stepped up to the plate to organise and/or sponsor events with Government providing facilitation and sometimes funding.
The annual Sandy Lane Gold Cup race is a definite favourite with visitors, and the various international sailing events are becoming increasingly popular, bringing hundreds of visitors to the island. In fact, it was recently announced that Barbados is on stream to host two major world sailing championships – the GP 14 Class World Championship in 2016 and the International Finn Class Masters World Championship in 2017, both historic for Barbados.
Following the successful Top Gear festival a few months ago, another motor racing event, the Race Of Champions, featuring the world’s finest drivers, is scheduled for mid-December.
The Americas Zone Group II Davis Cup final play-off was held here in September. Team Barbados made history by beating the tennis giant Mexico 3-2, taking Barbados to Group I for the first time – an amazing feat which gives Barbados much needed positive exposure.
This month, Barbados hosted over 200 swimmers, both recreational and elite, ranging from seven to 84 years old, from 12 countries for the Barbados Open Water Festival in Carlisle Bay. The event, which was a resounding success, was organised by husband and wife team Zary and Kristina Evelyn of Swim Barbados Vacations. The idea arose after discussions with local open water swimmers in 2012 when it was realised that we have one of the best venues in the world for such an event.
Zary then approached the Tourism Development Corporation and, with its financial support, added his marketing skills to promote the event internationally in four carefully selected swim magazines and through his database of 800 swim clubs worldwide. The 2014 event was held at the beginning of November. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., no doubt recognising the value of such an event to our tourism industry, came on board this year.
The historic occasion saw two world champions (Alex Meyer and Taylor Abbott) compete in the 5K race and two Caribbean swimmers set new country records for 5K swims: Christian Marsden of Trinidad and Nicholas Hall of Barbados. Facebook comments – like: “Thank you Barbados Open Water Swim Festival, for producing a brilliantly organised and very safe day . . . . Very proud to have been a part of it” and “I’ll be there next year for sure and hopefully I can convince some of my teammates to make the trip as well. Either way I’ll spread the word through the various South Florida swim clubs” – attest to the success of the festival.
Not only do these events earn foreign exchange through the spending of the participants, officials and fans on accommodation, food, entertainment, transport and so on, they introduce Barbados to people who may never have considered it as a holiday destination.
Unfortunately though, this collaboration doesn’t always happen, and Government regulations/bureaucracy result in lost opportunities and revenue, as is evident from the recent comments in the media that the 40 per cent duty to register a boat in Barbados has resulted in no revenue since owners have opted to register in St Lucia.
The recent happenings at Harrison’s Cave further confirm that Government shouldn’t be doing business. Furthermore, it’s unbelievable that at a time when the tourism industry is being asked to enhance its offerings, the Town Planning department is apparently dragging its feet on seemingly straightforward matters with possible disastrous consequences.
Let’s hope Minister Donville Inniss is as sincere as he appears to be when he says that Barbados must do better at facilitating business. He noted: “There is much more in our economy that the private sector must be doing and can be doing [but] we have to create the enabling environment to make it function.”
Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator. Email [email protected]