The Animal Flower Cave in St. Lucy is part of the Barbados Uh Come From initiative. (S. Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

Barbadians are being encouraged to visit attractions across their own island, in an effort to support the tourism sector, which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, launched the Barbados Uh Come From domestic tourism initiative, when she toured the Andromeda Botanic Gardens last week.

“We want to make sure that we’re able to keep these businesses afloat, to keep Barbadians employed in these companies, and so the next few months will see us (Ministry staff) on the road every week,” Senator Cummins said.

Chief Product Development Officer at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), Marsha Alleyne, noted that visiting the attractions would not only help to sustain the businesses, but would also help Barbadians to become better equipped to sell the country, that is, becoming ambassadors.

She was speaking to the media following a tour of the Animal Flower Cave in St. Lucy, as part of the Barbados Uh Come From initiative.

Ms. Alleyne stated: “We are a tourism dependent nation and it is really sad that so many of our visitors know Barbados better, and more than we Barbadians actually know Barbados.  And we want to change that.  We also want to demystify the whole notion of a tourist attraction, because the attractions are there for every single Barbadian, not just for people who visit the island….

“But more importantly, it is to educate every Barbadian, so you can actually understand what your national patrimony is all about; … build a sense of pride….  The heritage and history of this nation is so unique and so different, and I think that it should be in the belly of every single Barbadian.”

This sentiment was echoed by Member of Parliament for St. Lucy, and Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Phillips, who also toured the cave. He pointed out that a lot of Barbadians did not know a lot about the country.

He added, “We (St. Lucy) have a lot of attractions; the Animal Flower Cave is but the main one.  We also have the St. Lucy Parish Church, which is the same age as Bridgetown; we have the only octagonal tower; … Mount Gay Distillery, the oldest rum, over 300 years old; all of that is located in St. Lucy.”

Mr. Phillips applauded the staff of the Ministry of Tourism, especially BTMI’s staff, for developing the Barbados Uh Come From initiative, noting: “There is not a better time to do it, because there is a learning period for everybody and we have to learn new things.  We have to do things differently for our tourism sector as we still depend upon it…  The lessons that are being learnt will certainly stand us in good stead in the future.”

Jamaica recently announced a similar program to promote internal tourism.