The story of slavery on these shores is being given new life, as one ministry works assiduously to secure the rich culture and history of our island via a heritage tourism project.
Development Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Selma Thompson, explained that the sensitisation campaign on ???The Freedom Footprints: The Barbados Story Trail & Tour’ has proven to be a success.?? She also said the familiarisation sessions used to dialogue with persons who live in the designated areas have been completed:
"The town hall meetings were well received.?? They were four of those meetings held in the related communities; that is, those communities where the signage is located for the particular sites that we have so far interpreted and where the tour buses will make stops," Ms. Thompson added.
??The Development Officer stated that the positive response at the four meetings, held in Sweet Vale, St. George; Newbury, St. George; Bourne’s Land, Christ Church; and Lodge Road, Christ Church; illustrates the level of interest in the project.?? She explained that the Tourism Ministry will be returning to the communities to gather additional information on the history of the respective districts.??
There are also plans to identify and source relevant skills from within the communities that can be featured in the tours. ??"We’ll be undertaking a skills bank to see how they [residents] can help us develop the product in their area.??
That is when we bring people in so that they can showcase their [goods] with the goal of gaining benefit from it, including economic benefit," Ms. Thompson maintained.
The project is expected to move into phase two, which will feature a self-guided option in addition to the guided tour which has been developed.
??The current pilot tour begins with a 45-minute visit to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society’s galleries, then travels through the Garrison Historic Area, Bay Street, Carlisle Bay and onto Broad Street, where a plaque marks the site of ???The Cage’, which served as a temporary wood and wire prison for runaway slaves.
The excursion continues on to Newton Slave Burial Ground, the only known excavated communal slave burial ground in the Western Hemisphere; and Bourne’s Land, a free village that came into being through the bequeathing of land to a slave mistress and her children.?? The tour will then make its way to Sweet Vale, which is another example of such a village.?? The excursion then culminates at Gun Hill.
Whilst heritage tourism is not a foreign concept to Barbados, this is the island’s first major project related to slavery heritage.?? Ms. Thompson emphasised that the venture is not only valuable for tourism but for Barbadians as well.
??"Slavery, and all that went with it is a subject that evokes varying emotions in people.?? Some people get sad, some people get mad, some people get angry…the focus of our project, and we did highlight that when we went to the town hall meetings, is that we’re focusing on the unique cultural heritage that Barbadians possess as a result of the slavery experience," she pointed out.
Ms. Thompson disclosed that the multiple benefits to be derived from the project served to further emphasise its relevance and importance to the tourism industry and the country.
"There’s such a big market for cultural tourism now, you want to tap into that market for the economic gains of the country, but at the same time, preserving historical items of heritage for the benefit of future generations; that’s really the focus of the project," the Tourism Development Officer firstname.lastname@example.org