“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” – Colossians 4:5-6.
Last week, I had a meeting with a UN consultant from Mauritius who is new to the region, arrived two months ago, and is based in Trinidad & Tobago. She was seeking information for a paper that she has been commissioned to write on the tourism industry in Barbados and, in particular, on the impact of tourism incentive legislation on the holistic environment. We also discussed a paper that I was writing on “Barbados: public-private partnerships for export promotion and diversification, innovation and linkages”. At the end of the discussion, she posed a general question “What is it that a small island like Barbados can produce for a global market in Asia, say, which is not already being satisfied?” A good question for a stranger to the region, but one which is also instructive for those of us who have been around the region for a long time.
How many years must a country exist; Before world exports there will be? How many years can a people exist, Before they’re allowed to be free? How many times can a man turn his head, And pretend that he just doesn’t see: The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, The answer is blowing in the wind.
I then extolled the virtues of developing a dynamic and innovative services sector in support of the primary tourism industry and proceeded to name a few low hanging fruit which are blowing in the wind: Cricket, Film, Sea Island Cotton and Health Tourism.
Mr. Rawle Brancker, a member of the Board of Cricket Legends of Barbados, the first Chairman of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, an experienced businessman and a visionary, delivered the 13th Annual Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the Cave Hill Campus, UWI, last Tuesday. The topic was “Is the Board, Given its Present Structure, relevant to West Indies cricket?”
The more than capacity crowd was evidence of the interest in the topic. It was a timely diagnosis of the patient’s (West Indies cricket) ailment and gave a comprehensive recommendation for a sustainable cure. The issue of the disenfranchisement of the West Indies cricket supporter has long been a concern of mine. Over 50 years ago, all of the cricket loving countries in the Caribbean were motivated to address the problem of adult suffrage, in the political context, and we did something about it. At least we got the vote, even though some may argue that the governance framework in which we operate is not optimal.
Mr. Brancker, expressed disappointment with the status quo and proposed a model for the restructuring of West Indies cricket governance which is based on a new entity owned by the West Indies cricket supporters from whom the financial investment would come. If West Indies cricket is going to be a candidate for a sustainable service export, then the Brancker model cannot be ignored.
The film industry has been identified as another potential innovative service export. Two weeks ago we witnessed the World PremiÃ¨re of “Hit for Six”, a locally produced cricket themed film which is the first full-length feature film produced in Barbados to be marketed to a global audience. Its content addresses contemporary issues associated with the development of West Indies cricket and has a range of entertainment appeal which would be attractive to diverse film-going audiences. One of the factors responsible for the success of the film up to the production phase, is the smart partnership between the creative, management and financial elements of the project.
Another area in which we can be globally competitive is in exploiting the uniqueness of West Indian Sea Island cotton which only grows to its full quality potential in the islands of the Caribbean. We have been producing lint for many decades and it was hoped that the advent of Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean Inc., three years ago, would have led to a success story in the global distribution of the finest cotton garments, thus manifesting our ability to benefit from adding value along the value chain for the benefit of our farmers and investors. There has been a deafening silence on the progress of this very promising project since the Government has taken over its ownership.
The Caribbean climate is conducive to health tourism. Come and learn more about it at The Caribbean Health Tourism & Spa Symposium scheduled for May 13 -14, 2007 at the Hilton Kingston Jamaica hotel produced by Positive Tourism Limited. This event is endorsed by the Jamaican Ministry of Tourism Entertainment & Culture and the world renowned Day Spa and International Medical Spa Associations. Jamaica is the headquarters of the Resort & Day Spa Association and the Caribbean Chapter of the International Medical Spa Associations www.CaribbeanHealthTourism.com.
Whether it is cricket, film, cotton or health tourism, remember to establish a partnership between the enterprise, management and money, be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.