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Visitors invited to dine with a Bajan


Visitors invited to dine with a Bajan

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BRIDGETOWN – Barbados’ greatest tourism asset is its people and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) has developed an initiative that will give visitors the chance to make deeper connections with Barbadians.

Dine with a Bajan, which will be launched early in 2016, will afford visitors the opportunity to build friendships with Barbadians while experiencing sumptuous locally inspired food.  Speaking during the pilot event, manager of the BTPA’s National Tourism Host Programme (NTHP), Marsha Alleyne, said the contemporary traveller was seeking more opportunities for cultural immersion and culinary experiences were an excellent medium through which to facilitate this exchange.

Dine with a Bajan was born out of a desire to create more opportunities for our visitors to meet Barbadians other than those working directly within the tourism sector,” she said.

The official hosts for the event were Governor of the Central Bank, Dr DeLisle Worrell, and his wife, Monica Drayton-Worrell, who praised the concept before an audience of locals and visitors, stating that it had the potential to enhance Barbados’ competitiveness as a destination.

“People who have been to Barbados, they love the place, the climate is wonderful and so on but the thing that makes us special is our people.  Therefore, an initiative like this, which gives us the opportunity to interact with you and gives you the opportunity get to know more of us, I think, is really wonderful.  I’m an economist and we talk about competitiveness and what we’ve come to realize is the things that make you special are the things that make you most competitive.  So from all aspects I’m very excited about this,” Worrell remarked.

Alleyne explained that great care was taken to ensure the visitors in attendance represented a wide demographic of prospective participants.

“We selected visitors from across different hotels, including an all-inclusive, a couples-only resort and an upmarket hotel.  We also selected guests from a budget property and a hotel that has lots of repeat clientele so we got a wide cross-section of different guests who were interested in having this kind of experience.”

Throughout the evening the visitors were able to sample traditional Bajan food, sno-cones and local confectionary while interacting with several notable tourism partners including Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner; BTPA chairman Cecil Miller; BTPA CEO, Dr Kerry Hall; Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. director, marketing, Robert Chase; president of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association  Sunil Chatrani as well as calypsonian Red Plastic Bag.

“We also invited local destination management companies to the pilot so that they could experience the concept first-hand.  We will also be providing them with press kits to assist them in spreading the word about this very special dining experience among prospective visitors to the island.” Alleyne stated.

The BTPA executive also revealed that evaluation forms were shared with all participants to aid in assessing the success of the pilot.

“Based on the feedback we received we were able to ascertain from attendees their thoughts on the opportunity, what they would pay for such an experience and whether they would spread the word once they returned home.  All in all the comments were very positive so we are eagerly pressing ahead with our plans to launch this exciting concept”.  Alleyne stated. 

Once launched the programme will offer dinner options as diverse as roasting breadfruit by the seaside or dinner in a five-star villa or a chattel house, so as to provide a diverse range of culinary experiences from which to choose.  On each occasion a local celebrity will be invited to join in the meal and add an element of surprise to each dinner.  Each listed host will be vetted through a comprehensive screening process and visitors will be encouraged to share their feedback on the official online channels. 

Alleyne also pointed out that Barbados was already well known internationally as the culinary capital of the Caribbean for its annual Food & Wine and Rum Festival, which was a solid platform from which to establish this special dining product. (PR)