“The Nigerian welcome, the energy, the vibe is telling us that the dots between Africa and the Caribbean needs to be connected.”
Director of Marketing United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East and Africa of Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Dr. Carol Hay has disclosed that tourism is going to connect the dots. between Africa and the Caribbean.
Dr. Hay who stated this at the recently concluded Akwaaba African Travel Market in Lagos, noted that negotiations will continue with the government authorities in Africa to ensure that travel to the Caribbean is more accessible.
She said though it is visa free for Nigerians to the Barbados, but that negotiations through the ministries of foreign affairs will continue in that aspect for other Caribbean countries.
Dr. Hay stated further that the team want to encourage more people from Africa to visit the shores of the caribbean.
In her words: ” We were invited here at Akwaaba because it was the year of return, commemorating 400 years since the African slaves left your shores, more so, the people here may want to know what the dependants of this people are up to, particularly in terms of tourism. That is why the Caribbean is here to share that over the years, we have built a vibrant tourism industry and also, we know that Africa is familiar with the culture and the heritage of the caribbean”
Hay said that Africa is familiar with the culture and the heritage of the Caribbean, the Reggae music, the Calypso, the Soca.
She explained that: “You are already familiar with the music. What we want to do is to encourage more people from Africa to visit the shores of the Caribbean, when they arrive, they will find so much similarities. When we landed at Lagos airport, when we look at the Nigerian people, we could see in them the features of the Caribbean people.”
The Caribbean director of marketing for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa emphasised that: “We know that visa is a challenge and at the same time, many Nigerians already have visas to go to America and the UK and right now until we get direct flights, that is the gateway into the Caribbean via North America and the USA,” She stated.
On their reaction after visiting the Point of no Return in Badagry where the African slaves were shipped to the Americas, Hay noted that: “When we visited the Point of No Return, for us it was a very heart-wrenching moment because we knew in our hearts that people that looked like us 400 years ago walked that journey that we took and when we stood and looked at the coastline, we realised that the very next time those who survived the journey saw land was in the Caribbean, our Caribbean, it was quite emotional for us but at the same time, what that experience is done is create a very strong and resilient people who will proudly say, we are the dependants of those people and we are happy to share our lives in the Caribbean, the heritage, the culture with the people of Africa because they will love the vibe that the Caribbean people have”.
She said for many years the Caribbean people have been embracing their roots as there are a lot of Caribbean people living in Nigeria.
According to her: “The Jamaican High Commissioner who has been here with us has been meeting with the Diasporans here, the Jamaican people here, last night we had a dinner at a restaurant in Lagos here and is run by a Jamaican woman and her Nigerian husband, so there is a great connection, Caribbean people has always had the desire to travel to Africa. The Caribbean people who live in the Diaspora like the USA, UK, Europe always wanted to visit Africa, I have been fortunate to visit many African countries, this is my first time in Nigeria, but it would not be the last because the welcome, the energy and the vibe is telling us that the dots between Africa and the Caribbean need to be connected, is a powerful connection. Today a gentle man asked me, what is the connection between Africa and the caribbean, so I thought everyone knew the connection between us, but only to realise that not every one knows, so we will probably say who we are, the descendants of the enslaved people who have come back home and we welcome the theme of this year Akwaaba, the year of return and we have returned”.