Hail our heritage!
Sir Henry Fraser said tourism officials should be marketing the designation instead of relying on the sun, sea and sand image to woo tourists.
It was in June 2011 that Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was listed as a World Heritage Site for its outstanding universal value after retaining the original footprint, layout and even some buildings from 1628.
Sir Henry told Heather-lynn’s Habitat that Unesco-inscribed properties all over the world had witnessed an increase in visitor arrivals as the new global traveller sought new experiences and different cultures.
“Because of the recognition that the sun, sand, sea and sex on the side – what I call the five Ss – are not good for your health, more and more people, as they are getting older, are not interested in the beaches,” he said.
“They [visitors] are interested in the history, the culture and the communities. We have to understand that and we have to change our approach.”
Unfortunately, the island was still relying on its image of sunny skies and golden beaches, said Sir Henry, who was also the first chairman of the National Task Force on Barbados’ Built Heritage.
“If we could appreciate that every UNESCO World Heritage Site dramatically increases by 50 per cent, often 100 per cent, often several-fold, the tourist appeal and the numbers of visitors, then we would maximise the Garrison.”
He said the Garrison, with its stone barracks, savannah, tunnels and ambience, was the jewel in the World Heritage
Site and should be marketed as such.
“It’s a combination of history, nature and the environment which is absolutely unbeatable,” he declared.
He, however, described the capital city as having potential, but needing work and money to make it into a vibrant tourist attraction.
Historic buildings which were in ruins must be restored and sidewalks, as well as signage improved.
“There are not enough cafeterias, not enough nightlife. Bridgetown could be a really attractive city because unlike downtown Kingston [Jamaica] and downtown Port of Spain [Trinidad], Bridgetown still has the potential to provide nightlife, to provide entertainment, to be a really lively, attractive city,”
Sir Henry said.
But there were pluses.
“Parts of it down at the back where the old Dacosta Mall was, towards the car park, that little area has been done. The Wickham/lewis Boardwalk is a nice feature in Bridgetown; the Waterfront Café remains a model that everybody admires and envies.”
SIR HENRY FRASER said he believedBarbados has not taken advantage of its UNESCOWorld Heritage Site designation. SEVEN YEARS AFTER Bridgetown and its Garrison was designated as a World Heritage Site, a former National Trust president believes Barbados has not taken advantage of its UNESCO inscription.