CI Shorts: Barbados at 51 and maturing nicely
As Barbados approaches its independence anniversary on 30 November, the country is working hard to dispel impressions that it’s in the economic doldrums. In fact, it’s been developing its infrastructure on all fronts.
Caribbean Intelligence© highlights some of the recent things Barbados has set in motion in its digital, tourism and agricultural industries:
- The Barbadian government is working on a national cybersecurity strategy. It’s aimed at providing what Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite describes as “a robust cyber-defence” to tackle crime. He told a conference that the strategy would include work to beef up existing and new legislation for digital times. New legislation may include an Interception of Communications Act, while there’ll be some work on Barbados’s Computer Misuse Act, Electronics Transactions Act, Telecommunications Act and Copyright Act.
- Mr Brathwaite’s ideas are not only for Barbados. He told a conference of public prosecutors that “none of us can do it alone....the threats that we are faced with in terms of cybersecurity and transnational organised crime require a holistic approach nationally and a regional approach.”
- Barbados has plans to beef up its already competitive tourism industry. Plans in the pipeline include a new visitor centre in Bridgetown, the building of new tourism venues showcasing Barbados’s heritage and improvements to its museums at the Garrison and at the Oistins Waterfront. The plans do not stop in the bricks-and-mortar world: there are plans for a digital push to promote Barbados. Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTI) will implement the programme with the backing of a US$20m loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The IDB said that tourism contributed 12% of GDP in Barbados in 2015, creating 37% of the island’s jobs.
- Barbados has tapped a new visitor market – Hong Kong. In late October, China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced that its passport holders had been granted visa-free access to Barbados for a stay of up to 90 days. Barbados has joined 159 territories now granting such access to Hong Kong passport holders.
- Barbados has plans to develop a 30-acre site into a comprehensive science and agro-business park. The University of the West Indies-backed park will train future agricultural sector workers as well as help to bring down the island’s food import bill. Barbados Today called it a “local push” on the basis that it will help reduce the Bdos$800m that Barbados spends on importing food. The park at the Hope Plantation in St Lucy and Duke’s Plantation in St Thomas will be backed by Chinese funding. While growing more food and training future farmers, the agro-business side will help the development of value-added businesses based on agricultural products – think leather goods, chocolate and confectionery.
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