Cummins: Barbados safe, open for business, tourism
Following is an edited version of a statement by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins.
“I want to take a moment to respond to a lot of the commentary that we’ve been hearing lately, including, of course, the concerns raised most recently about an event called Haywire.
“Haywire may not be a BTMI event or sponsored by the BTMI – and our role so far in engaging with the organisers has been to provide guidance on protocols, as we do for all travellers. But it is also the BTMI’s job to direct travel safely to Barbados.
“So on Monday, for example, a cruise ship carrying 600 passengers arrived here. We welcomed them. We spent the last year working with the cruise lines to have everyone on the same page. And it was the first cruise anywhere in the entire Western Hemisphere. We brought it here and we did it safely.
“It would be no different for the organisers of Haywire or any other group from anywhere in the world – white, black, yellow, blue, proposing to travel to Barbados because tourism is our business. What’s more is that we also have to be confident in who we are and the fact that Barbados and Barbadians are about far more than excessive drinking and excessive feteing. And that is definitely the case for our tourism product.
“So it is unfortunate that some people who for their own purpose, would then take videos of events which occurred before COVID and present them for circulation to inflame the passions of Barbadians, as if events the entire world over have not had to change since COVID. We no longer do events the way that we did before COVID.
“But I want to say something as a Barbadian first and as a tourism official as well. I need to be very clear on this because it has troubled me in a lot of the ongoing commentary on anything tourism.
“There are thousands of workers and businesses, large and small, in our sector who have stepped forward to be vaccinated. Why have they done that? They have done that so they can get back to work and support their families. These are people that range from taxi operators in the Port to shop vendors in the airport as well. Every corner of Barbados has people who depend on the tourism industry and they’re anxious to get back to work safely. They’re the people that we get up for and we do this for every single day.
“So, for me, this isn’t about any event. It is about the continued attempts by some, not all, just by some, to stir up a false debate, trying to pit tourism and visitors against locals. That is not who we are. And I take strong objection to the views of some with their own agenda that suggest by their position and their stance that tourism workers and people who depend on the tourism sector, which remains our largest revenue earner, should not be able to eat or feed their families or send their children back to school until COVID is extinct from the Earth.
“I feel as though we have to stand up for these people. Barbados is safe and open for business, for tourism, as long as our officials do exactly what they do every day – guide potential visitors on how to observe and to have our protocols enforced.” (PR)