Hot on the heels of the Barbados Network Consultation of August 7-10, which welcomed people of Barbadian heritage from around the world, comes the 8th annual African Diaspora Heritage Trail (ADHT) conference.
This conference, held September 17-19, 2012 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, will embrace approximately 400 members of the African diaspora the world over. The theme of the conference this year is “Our Freedom, Our Identity: Uncover, Recover, Discover.”
The primary goal is to establish heritage trails, which link the diaspora traditions in Africa, the Caribbean, North America, South America, and Europe. Related tourism aims include the pinpointing of authentic local culture dating back to African slavery, the publishing of a tourism management guide geared for the expanding cultural heritage market, and the development of a network of partners dedicated to providing all the necessary skills and resources for furthering cultural heritage destinations.
Valerie Marshall, the Barbados Tourism Authority’s Product Integration Manager, said: “Barbados, in particular, should benefit tremendously from hosting this conference. Apart from providing hospitality for around 400 extra people on the land, the islanders will also receive aid in developing a strong cultural heritage component for its tourism, aimed especially at attracting visitors from within the Diaspora. This could in turn result in mutually-beneficial business relationships.”
Special travel packages from within the diaspora could also be arranged with tour operators specializing in the cultural heritage market. Barbados is in the process of uncovering archeological finds, which could provide valuable clues to the lives of African slaves. The conference is a good reason for overseas archeologists and historians to come and be educated on the history surrounding slavery on this island.
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, which recently received the coveted UNESCO World Heritage designation, will be showcased and the conference should provide the impetus needed to get certain heritage projects up and running.
The ADHT Conference is an excellent opportunity to expose the visiting African diaspora to the knowledge and brilliance of local intelligentsia. The keynote speaker is none other than Barbadian Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies and world-recognized historian. Sir Hilary’s sterling qualifications make him the perfect one to raise the banner high for Barbados.
Other representatives of Barbados who will impart their wisdom at this conference are: Professor Pedro Welch, Professor Alvin Thompson, Trevor Marshall, Steve Devonish, Dr. Deryck Murray, and Alissandra Cummins. There will also be presenters from the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean.
The ADHT Conference originated in Bermuda as a cultural heritage tourism initiative developed by the Ministry of Tourism in that country. It has since been endorsed by UNESCO.