Getting Real on Why Travelers Visit Barbados

Getting Real on Why Travelers Visit Barbados

This is where I'm sitting as I write this post. Nice economy we're having, huh?

This is where I'm sitting as I write this post. Nice political stability we're having, huh?

A few months ago I traveled from Barbados to Jamaica to attend a conference on the marketing of the Caribbean islands to tourists. One of the presenters was a Caribbean marketing expert who listed the top reasons a traveler chooses to holiday on a Caribbean island in lieu of other places. The reasons she gave: proximity of the islands to the States and ease of travel to the Caribbean, the strength of most of the countries’ economies, the political stability of many of the countries, the number of hotel rooms. Blah,blah, blech.

She never mentioned the sparkling blue sea.

She never mentioned the sugary beaches.

She never mentioned the sublime climate.

I thought about that conference this morning as Greg and I were walking Carlisle Bay beach, my favorite beach on the island. It’s our standard Sunday morning outing:  We begin our walk at the Barbados Yacht Club and walk the mile of pink-white sand toward Bridgetown, kicking the clear water with our feet, marveling at the beauty we see.

Carlisle Bay beach in Barbados

Carlisle Bay beach in Barbados

As we walk the mile of beach back to the yacht club, we pick up bits of garbage that mar the otherwise pristine Barbados beach. Pieces of Styrofoam containers, straws, plastic cups, plastic bags … it’s gross to touch these things but it’s even worse to see them.

So you’re wondering what link I’m going to make between a marketing conference and picking up trash?

I’ll get to it, right after I make apology in advance to the many Bajans, my fellow citizens here in Barbados, who dispose of their trash properly.

Here goes … I’m sorry to say that, from what I’ve seen, the trash is left mostly by locals, not tourists. There, I said it. I’ve kept this bottled up inside for a long time. But since I heard the woman at the marketing conference, I understand better why it’s locals who litter, not outsiders.

Like the marketing “expert” at the Jamaica conference, many locals don’t see the paradise that draws travelers the world over. The beaches … the weather … the aqua sea — these are ho-hum everyday parts of their world.  Nothing special.  And the convenient excuse I hear around here that the sea will “take care of” the garbage is itself garbage thinking.

“Birds, turtles, and fish mistake the tiny nodules for fish eggs. Garbage bags, plastic soda rings, and Styrofoam particles are regularly eaten by sea turtles. A floating garbage bag looks like a jellyfish to a turtle. The plastic clogs the turtles’ intestines, robbing the animals of vital nutrients, and it has been the cause of untold turtle losses to starvation. All seven of the world’s sea turtle species suffer mortality from both plastic ingestion and plastic entanglement. One turtle found dead off Hawaii carried over 1,000 pieces of plastic in its stomach and intestines. Another could not submerge from so much Styrofoam in its stomach.” — Capt. Paul Watson

The marketing “expert” didn’t get it and neither do the clods who drop their garbage anywhere they happen to be at the moment they finish their flying fish sandwich:  The sea, the beaches, and the climate are the Caribbean countries’ bread and butter and the reason people visit.

The Caribbean countries could have the stablest economies and most and best hotel rooms of any place on earth, but if we didn’t have the climate, beaches, and sparkling blue sea, no one would visit. Period.

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