Renowned historian and medical scholar Professor Emeritus Sir Henry Fraser is pleading with stakeholders and government to place a greater emphasis on health and heritage tourism as niche sectors.
Sir Henry made the comments at a donation ceremony at the UWI Cave Hill School of Business and Management for a book which he coauthored with tourism executive Dr Kerry Hall entitled Island in the Sun: The story of Tourism in Barbados.
The book, which borrows heavily from Dr Hall’s doctoral thesis tracks the origins of tourism on the island to a pre-emancipation Barbados in the 1800s.
Sir Henry, who pitched his own tourism slogan Barbados, the perfect paradise said even back then, the industry’s focus was on heritage and health.
“We recognised that heritage tourism is the biggest, fastest growing aspect of tourism worldwide. You only have to go to almost anywhere in Britain which is a historic centre and anywhere in Britain you go, you see these hundreds and hundreds of Japanese people with their selfie cameras on the sticks and taking photos of everything. Heritage tourism is huge, but we aren’t recognising it here in Barbados,” said Sir Henry.
“Health has been forgotten. This is the place with the most even temperatures in the world, with the safest seabathing in the world, as long as you can avoid the jet skis and we need to recognise the health ways that we should promote our tourism so that we don’t have a rat running across the sand just as sundown is approaching. These are the things that we need to emphasise in promoting Barbados,” he added.
The academic expressed concern that too much of Barbados’ resources were being used to promote “bikini” tourism.
“I talk about this in my columns and perhaps I say too much about it, but we have historic Bridgetown, a UNESCO world heritage site which is a title I anticipate will be removed shortly because everything around old Bridgetown is decaying and only high-rise buildings are going up,” Professor Fraser said.
“So we will probably lose that because the Ministry of Housing actually takes the keys of every building after the government shuts its doors. So it’s not the caretaker of empty buildings, it’s the undertaker of empty buildings, waiting for the building to decay.
“But these are things that we need to recognise. Heritage tourism and health tourism have always been the mainstays until ‘bikini’ Barbados became our promotions agenda,” he added.