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Barbados prides itself on independence and the will of its people, which form the backbone of the Caribbean nation. Yet it willingly admits that visitors to the island make a massive contribution as well. “By a considerable margin, tourism is the number one foreign exchange earner,” declared Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy. “In terms of contribution to GDP (gross domestic product), the direct contribution of tourism, when you look at it with the indirect and induced benefits, it’s certainly way over 50 percent.”
As Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Maxine McClean has been an integral player in navigating international agreements beneficial to the island nation of Barbados. “As part of CARICOM, and what is also described as CARIFORUM, we are part of the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union … a major free trade agreement,” McClean explained. “We were the first group of the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) countries to sign that agreement, and that is very critical for us. Within the context of CARICOM itself as a single market, that creates a body of countries that have common external tariffs.”
The Barbados Surfing Association (BSA) was founded in 1983. President and surfer Christopher Clarke explained that the sport has been a large part of Barbados beach scene for more than 30 years. Whether it’s body surfing, body boarding, kite boarding, normal stand up surfing or the newest introduction to the sport - paddle surfing - it has become a passion for many.
Rum aficionados can thank Barbados for the derivative of sugar that brings to mind pirates, plunder and the Caribbean. According to historical documents, rum was born in Barbados in 1703. The island’s famous rum Mount Gay is named after Sir John Gay Alleyne, the man that first produced the hay-colored spirited liquid. The company was actually owned by John Sober, who asked Sir John to manage it.
Did you know that George Washington, the first president of the United States, once lived in Barbados? Just 19 years old, he visited the eastern Caribbean island in 1751 and lived there for about two months. He accompanied his older half-brother Lawrence, who had contracted tuberculosis and was hoping for a cure from the sun and sea air. Lawrence would die a year later of his ailment upon his return home to Virginia. For George, the Barbados visit was the only trip outside the U.S. for the future president.
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