Set up Of­fi­cial Rum Shop of Bar­ba­dos brand

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Opinion - – SEAN ST CLAIR FIELDS

While many of us hold no of­fi­cial ti­tles, we have and con­tinue to host, chap­er­one and en­ter­tain many a for­eigner.

It is ev­i­dent that the ma­jor­ity of us have em­braced the ethos that “tourism is our busi­ness, let’s play our part”, as vis­i­tors con­tinue to marvel at our warmth, sin­cer­ity and hos­pi­tal­ity. Truth be told, this is our unique­ness, our brand, our com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. It sets us apart from all oth­ers and ex­plains why tourists con­tinue to choose Bar­ba­dos de­spite its high costs and the op­tions.

Like the sweet aroma that lingers in the back of the throat af­ter a sip of our ex­tra old rums, so too are the mem­o­ries that are etched into the hearts and minds of those who call Bar­ba­dos home for a few days. If only we could bot­tle our hos­pi­tal­ity and sell it on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, we would have no need for an In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund sup­port pro­gramme.

Not­with­stand­ing this unique­ness, I some­times think that our tourism of­fi­cials need to get out of the of­fice and visit the “speakeasy” or the “hide­away”. Per­haps they would come to re­alise that it is in the vil­lage shop that our hos­pi­tal­ity is at its high­est level of au­then­tic­ity. It is here that the vis­i­tor gets the “real” lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, not in the lux­ury ho­tels or the pre-ar­ranged tours. They get to be Bar­ba­di­ans for the day, eat­ing Bar­ba­dian foods, drink­ing Bar­ba­dian drinks in fel­low­ship with Bar­ba­di­ans who are not paid to be hos­pitable or friendly.

I have al­ways been im­pressed with the idea of es­tab­lish­ing the “Of­fi­cial Rum Shop of Bar­ba­dos brand” whereby small pro­pri­etors who are will­ing to com­mit to the high­est stan­dards of op­er­a­tions can be re­warded this des­ig­na­tion. El­i­gi­ble would be shops where tourists can al­ways get a “bread and two”, a ham cut­ter, cou cou and fish, mac­a­roni pie, a pork chop, and so on.

It is in these shops that last­ing mem­o­ries are made. It is there that tourists will con­tinue to spend their hard earned money to ex­pe­ri­ence what it is re­ally like to be Bar­ba­dian. I sug­gest the au­thor­i­ties take an­other look at im­ple­ment­ing such an pro­gramme.

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