Tourism task force ‘on the job’

By Randy Benett, Barbados Today,

A special task force dedicated to improving the island’s tourism has been convened and is already at work, Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds today revealed.

Chairing the Barbados Tourism Recovery Task Force is Dr Kerry Hall, the tourism ministry’s Director of Tourism Development while veteran hotelier Peter Odle is the deputy chairman.

Symmonds said: “This task force which has a range of responsibilities has been up and running and formally working and doing some very good work since the start of April of this year. One of the things that the Prime Minister felt very strongly about was that we should have a Barbados Tourism Recovery Task Force which would enable us to manage the response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The task force, therefore, has two mandates: the management of the COVID-19 crisis and the transformation of the tourism sector and the tourism industry in Barbados, and in that regard, we feel that we have done an adequate amount of service to the opportunity that now presents itself during this downtime.”

The task force’s four sub-committees have already been set up, he said.

One of those sub-committees is responsible for reviewing the operations and “thinking through” the operational sustainability and finance issues confronting the sector, he added.

During the meeting, Dr Hall also announced the launch of the Barbados Together Continuous E-learning programme, which is intended to train and upgrade workers’ skills.

The programme’s mandate is to provide recommendations for the planning, coordination and delivery of human resource development programmes to prepare the frontline workforce for the post-COVID-19 reopening, she said.

It would also outline methodologies to improve service quality in a revitalized tourism and hospitality industry, the senior tourism official added.

The programme is to cater to both direct and indirect frontline workers from 13 sub-sectors: accommodation, attractions and activities, transport, food and beverage, destination management companies, National Conservation Commission, medical services, retail sector, vendors, Grantley Adams International Airport, Bridgetown Porting Cruise Terminal and the informal sector.

Dr Hall said: “One of the first areas along with of course health and wellness and looking to stem the bleeding of the industry to salvage businesses and to create health and safety protocols, but in fact, one of the most important areas we have chosen to focus on is our people.

“We well know that Barbadian people are undoubtedly one of our island’s greatest strengths and are a powerful part of differentiation for the Barbados brand. They are the backbone and the heartbeat of the tourism industry and in many ways, the success of tourism is in large part attributed to their unwavering commitment and dedication.”

Photo: Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds

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