Minister of Community Development and Culture, Steve Blackett, has called on all Barbadians to stand against the wanton destruction of “built heritage”, giving a resounding “no” to calls in some quarters for the demolition of the ruins at Farley Hill. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a Regional Heritage Tourism Workshop this morning at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, Cave Hill Campus.
“I am not for one moment saying that we must curtail the construction of all new structures. Without change, there is stagnation; but where our heritage structures are concerned, that change must be controlled. In introducing the new, we must neither totally erase the old nor compromise its integrity,” Minister Blackett remarked.
He also noted that if Barbados, and by extension the Caribbean, continued to be hesitant in claiming ownership and responsibility of its heritage products then it stood to lose a very critical aspect of its culture.
Minister Blackett pointed out that heritage tourism could be a major money earner for this country, however, he expressed concern that not enough Barbadians fully appreciated their heritage.
He said that while Barbadians marvelled and raved at the cultural wonders of Europe and North America, they paid little attention to the beauty located here.
“Unfortunately, we often remain blissfully unaware and unappreciative of the incredible heritage right here on our doorstep – a heritage we should be proud to share with the world,” Minister Blackett remarked.
The Minister also noted that the traditional marketing of Barbados as a destination of sun, sea and sand was dated, and as such, authorities must seek to cater to a more sophisticated and discernable type of visitor; one who valued “the historical and cultural offerings of his or her chosen destination.
“Research has shown that there is a large and growing body of persons who choose their holiday destinations on the basis of their cultural offerings. People who want to live the experience of that destination, and not just lie on a beach and soak up the sun,” he pointed out.
In light of this, Mr. Blackett said Barbados was seeking to have the City of Bridgetown and the Garrison nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List and in due course, the Scotland District and the Industrial Heritage of Barbados – The Story of Sugar.
“We know that to have a site included on the World Heritage List, has a significant impact on the number of visitors to that site…we need the support of the entire country for this nomination to be successful,” he observed.