Barbadians can no longer afford to entertain the naive notion that the country is safe from acts of terrorism, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has warned.
Delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of a tourism security workshop at the Barbados Defence Force mess hall on Monday morning, Sealy contended that history was replete with examples of countries that felt their location gave them immunity from certain threats.
“We hear of the terrorist attacks, most recently in Paris and London and, suffice it to say, the world is a bit less safe. Gone are the days when we in the Caribbean can simply say ‘that could never happen in the region’ and, more particularly, ‘that could never happen in Barbados’. If we cast our minds back a few years, we would have heard ‘nothing like that could have happened in the USA’, but of course they had 911 and we are still feeling the effects of that very unfortunate incident,” he said.
“It means that we are all obligated to update our protective measures through security training. The world has certainly changed and terror attacks are happening in countries away from our region, but it [security] ranks highly in the list of priorities for Barbados and the Caribbean in terms of being in a position to deal with such threats.”
The minister further noted that, unlike some destinations, Barbados does not have designated tourist regions. Therefore, he said, it would require all hands on deck to secure the shared space.
Sealy cautioned that Barbados’ continued success as a tourist destination hinged on its ability to guarantee the safety of its visitors.
“It is important for providers of security in the private sector to join with Government forces to form a national alliance to deal with this issue. Training is essential for all to meet that national standard in order to be effective.
“Safety and security has become a major concern for all travellers and we are constantly reminded of this. Every time we pass through the airport and are asked to take off our shoes, we are reminded of the importance of vigilance. So, the success of our destination very much depends on our ability to provide safety and security for the people that come to our shores,” he stressed.