“But Jesus, said unto them, a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house” – Mark 6:4
Many of us, who are active in one form of endeavour or another, may be able to relate to the above text. It is very difficult to get people to listen to you in a familiar environment, but if you are out of that environment, you are often given a better hearing. Similarly, prophets from abroad who come into our environment are often listened to more quickly than those at home. My two sons both live abroad, albeit in different parts of the world, but, in the last week, I received independent communication from both of them which tell me that they, too, relate well, albeit through different experiences, to the above text.
I got other emails from Kevin, in Dubai, relating to Emirates, the Dubai based airline with which he works. The headlines were (1) “Emirates Set to Meet Dh2b Earnings Target – Will Decide soon on Expansion”. The airline’s President, Tim Clarke, said in an interview at one of the world’s largest travel trade shows Travel Fair, ITB in Berlin, “We have had a very good year ending March 31, 2010.”; (2) “Emirates to Start Senegal Flight”; and (3) “Emirates to hire 2,000 Cabin Crew this Year”, in addition, “Around 660 cabin crew and more than 60 pilots have been recruited by the carrier since March 2009”, the airline said last Friday in a statement.
So much for the financial crisis and the corresponding expressions of doom and gloom. It must be a case of expert visioning and planning among the Dubai folks, not to speak of the timely access to funds which can result in these positive vibes coming out of the Middle East.
It has been said that there is always a source of funds for a good project so, if we, in Barbados, have good projects designed to stimulate the economy we should be able to source funds globally in support of these. Tourism is the largest sector here in Barbados and, whether it is due to the cold winter abroad or not, I notice that there have not been as many grumblings as anticipated in reports of tourism statistics this winter season.
In terms of the recovery of the economy of Barbados, one must surely look at its biggest industry and see how best it can be expanded. At the same time, of course, one must look at other industries for growth as well, for example the creative industries (music, film fashion and art) with which I am involved on a daily basis.
Tourism is the biggest sector in Barbados and most of the rest of the Caribbean. I observe that Jamaica has the highest growth rate in that sector among its Caribbean neighbours (notwithstanding the Air Jamaica governance crisis); with St. Lucia not complaining that much these days at all (notwithstanding the local water crisis). I remember Jamaica visioning, probably five to seven years ago, that the Asian market provided a major opportunity. They did something about it, and they are now reaping the results, even amidst the repercussions of the global financial crisis.
Senator Allen Chastanet, Minister of Tourism in St. Lucia, has supported the short-term marketing strategy of going after the low-hanging fruit, which focuses on South America and Asians in North America as well as additional air-lift capacity. He has agreed, however, that, in terms of a long-term strategy, one has to focus on the Asian market, which is what I have been proposing ad nauseum.
There seems to be resistance to this in Barbados on the grounds that: (1) the Asian market is too far; (2) Barbados is cost prohibitive from an airfare perspective; (3) little demand in both directions; and (4) there is not any direct air-lift capacity.
I remember once going from New York to Tokyo assuming that the flight originated in New York, only to find, when I boarded the aircraft, that the daily flight originated in Brazil and most passengers were destined to Tokyo. My information is that there is an increasing demand for alternative destinations, such as Barbados and the Caribbean, from Asian travellers – there explodeth the myth about distance.
I am told that there are sufficient numbers of Asian travellers who are financially able to travel wherever they want – there explodeth the myth about high cost.
My son’s reaction to this is that Emirates will fly anywhere in the world as long as it is a profitable venture, which implies, first of all, the existence of demand. There are sufficient attractions in the Caribbean for Asian, European, India, and African visitors and vice versa for aggressive marketers to work on – there explodeth the myth about demand.
If you examine a route map for Emirates Airlines from Dubai to the rest of the world, the only link that’s missing is one to the Caribbean. Dakar, Senegal is the nearest point to the African Continent from Barbados. Is it not timely that we initiate some discussion with Emirates to extend the Dakar route to Barbados, one day a week at first?
When we get the tourism going, then there is trade in goods/services, cultural exchange and the lot. Just food for thought but of course, I can’t help but be reminded of the text above.