A Close-up of Barbados

By Donna J. Jodhan

When it comes to really knowing how to accommodate persons with special needs, I would like to shine the spotlight this week on a tiny island in the Caribbean
namely Barbados. No doubt many of our readers are familiar with this tiny sunshine island, but there is a lot more for me to tell.

So many countries still have a long way to go when it comes to providing adequate tourist services to persons with special needs but for Barbados, this
is no problem. Barbadians really know how to do it and they can certainly show the rest of the world a thing or two.

They know the true meaning of the term “visually impaired.” At the airport, they show their savvy by ensuring that a visually impaired traveler is suitably accommodated. They provide
special needs services that lends assistance to those travelers who need help with their luggage, filling out of their immigration papers, and they provide
assistance right through to the aircraft. You don’t even have to ask, as soon as you arrive at the airport, agents are there to meet and greet and offer
assistance.

Special needs services at the hotels are top class. As soon as you enter the dining room, waiters and waitresses are practically falling over each other
to help. They offer to assist you to your table, they offer to help you at the buffet tables, and they are at your elbow asking if you need anything else.

I have special praise for the Sandy Bay Beach Club. Their staff and service are first class. This hotel is located on the South East coast of Barbados
and looks out onto a beautiful beach. I have visited Barbados twice during the last two years and on each occasion I have received the same type of treatment.
Excellent all the way!

There is much that other tourist resorts and islands can learn from the Barbadians, especially when it comes to attitude. Yes, attitude and I say this
because so often it is the attitude barrier that we as blind and visually impaired persons run into. Take for instance right here in North America. So
many times I have encountered attitude problems with staff at hotels and airports. For example, at terminal 3 of the Pearson airport in Toronto: I humbly
submit that staff there needs to be given a lesson in courtesy and savvy. They often seem to believe that it is a bother to help us and I hear this frequently
from fellow special needs travelers. The staff at terminal 1 is a bit better but there is room for improvement.

What hotels and airports and tourist industries around the world as a whole need to keep in mind is this: The bread and butter consumers of tomorrow are
going to be seniors and special needs consumers. There is no stopping this and the sooner that they can understand this the better it would be for all
stakeholders. They should stop viewing this as a duty to accommodate and start looking at it as an opportunity to take advantage of. It does not matter
whether or not it is one of the busiest airports in America, a crowded hotel in Canada, A scenic resort in Europe, or a sunshine island in the Caribbean
or in Asia; the concept is the same and if anyone is truly serious about taking advantage of our present economic crisis, then here is an opportunity to
use tourist savvy to attract wood-be customers. There is nothing worse than an attitude problem to deal with. Much for us to learn from Barbados! If
they can get it right then why can’t we?

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your freelance writer and reporter wishing you a terrific day.

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