A delegation of top government officials from Barbados are currently in Ghana to explore ways by which the two countries can cooperate on various areas of the two economies.
Key among these areas is tourism and cultural exchanges where the two countries seek to leverage to strengthen existing bonds of friendship between the two. Another area being considered is aviation where the two countries hope to establish direct link through air transport.
The delegation includes Kerrie Symmond and John King, Ministers of Tourism and International Tourism and Creative Economy, Culture and Sports respectively.
Speaking to pressmen in Accra at a meeting between the two parties earlier today, the Barbados Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmond said their presence in Ghana is a historic opportunity for them to become familiar with the country.
“… for the first time ever, we have two Ministers from Barbados in the country, and also being (sic) able to identify various ways we can have mutual cooperation and exchanges of opportunities for economic development for our people. Barbados takes this opportunity very seriously.”
“The leadership we give tourism is largely because of the fact that, from our perspective, we have been North Atlantic focused for several decades, I mean Barbados has been doing tourism since the early 1900s and we have always done it with a very Eurocentric -North Atlantic focus. What we really want to do now is to make sure tourism in Barbados is a year round business,” he added.
Kerrie averred that inasmuch as Ghana and Barbados share a lot of commonalities in terms of its warmth and beaches, there are the ancestral connections that should be explored.
He opined: “Obviously folks from Ghana are not coming to Barbados because it is warm, or will not be invited to come to Barbados because we have beaches, because all of those things, you have too.
The reality is that there is cultural and heritage type of relationship that we share, which is a very special bond. And it links our small island of 300,000 people to your country of 30 million people by that bond of blood and natural history.”
The Minister insisted that moving round the country; he has identified several similarities between Ghana and his country in terms of the lifestyle and the traditions of the people.
The new cooperation between the two countries comes on the heels of the former’s successful “Year of Return” campaign which saw Ghana’s President visiting Barbados and its Prime Minister also visiting Ghana last year November.
Ghana’s Tourism Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi said having first made a stop at Barbados when President Akufo-Addo toured the Caribbean; this new relationship is quite significant.
“We have been charged to ensure that we bridge that gap between Ghana and Barbados and by extension, the entire Caribbean and that’s exactly what we are doing. With the Barbadian delegation, the Ministers of Tourism and Sports and Culture, we have engaged on the various significant pillars that we can cooperate on and we are working towards signing a MoU.
We have agreed on the broad framework of the MoU and further down the line we are going to sign that MoU and commence implementation,” she said.
Even before the official signing of the MoU, Oteng-Gyasi said that discussions have already begun on cultural exchanges between Ghana and Barbados this year.
According to her, “we are looking at certain significant activities that we can undertake this year, under culture and tourism. We are looking at cooperation in the music industry where we can have music festivals that artistes from both countries can participate.”
She also mentioned other areas such as the film industry where there has already been collaboration between the two countries on the production of “Joseph” – a movie premiered in Ghana as part of the Year of Return events. The production features actors from both Barbados and Ghana.