Workers in the tourism industry have been told by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, that there is no room for discrimination in that sector.
The minister, a former tourism executive, emphasized this on Tuesday, while addressing a seminar on Inclusive Tourism in the Caribbean, hosted jointly by Virgin Holidays, B-GLAD, the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Canadian High Commission, at the Savannah Hotel.
Pointing out that the mindset of all, including those in the tourism industry, had to be that “we are human beings who are interacting with other human beings”, he stressed the need to treat others as we would want them to treat us.
Mr. Jordan said: “In tourism, there is no room for stereotyping…. Human beings fear the unfamiliar, and we sometimes have to train ourselves to be kind, understanding, and respectful. In tourism, there is no room for discrimination. We, as workers in this industry, do not discriminate because it is not the decent, human thing to do. We do not discriminate because our guests are human beings. When we check in a guest, we are concerned only with the ability of the guest to pay. We do not ask if the guest has a temper, and is prone to destroy hotel furnishings. We accept people as they present, and we work to make their stay an enjoyable one.
“Discrimination is an issue that must be addressed because it speaks of treating to some…as inferior and as not deserving of the same level of treatment and respect as those of the main group(s). There are those who are traditionally discriminated against because of their ethnicity; racial identity; gender; sexual orientation; a disability; gender identity; religion; or in some cases their denomination.”
The Labour Minister further reminded those gathered that his ministry was currently preparing legislation to address the issue of discrimination in the workplace, and put a framework in place to prevent its occurrence.
Elaborating on the importance of this, he said: “Secondary to being the right thing to do, there are genuine economic benefits to rejecting stereotypes and discrimination, and rather being inclusive in our approach to the tourism industry.”
Tourism, he added, was the main driver of the Barbados economy, earning approximately half of the country’s foreign exchange, and employing more people than any other single industry.
“Significantly, for a country like Barbados, tourism employs people across a wide range of skill sets, abilities, and levels of certification. Tourism employs many people with degrees and who have no certification. Tourism is, therefore, absolutely essential in maintaining our social and economic stability,” he said.
The minister also stated that along with its related sectors, tourism was responsible for much of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and much of the GDP of the Caribbean as a whole, which is the world’s most tourism-dependent region.