Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (left), Historian Pedro Welch and Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, lead walk??along Synagogue Lane during Sunday’s guided tour of Bridgetown. (A. Miller/BGIS)
Barbados is pressing ahead to have its City – Bridgetown and its Garrison – designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
That is the word from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who stressed that this initiative was "very important" to Government and promised it would be pursued "with all the vigour at our command".
Mr. Stuart made the comments yesterday after a guided tour of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, where he was accompanied by Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, Professor Pedro Welch, Professor Henry Fraser and several top civil servants.
According to him, Barbados would derive several benefits from such an inscription, not only in terms of additional tourists, but also add to the prestige of this nation, which is well thought of internationally. ??
"As a tourist destination, once the Barbadian story is told, once people become aware of what Barbados is about … it becomes an additional promotional mechanism for our tourism marketing efforts and I believe that it can bring more people to Barbados. It can help people who come from our source markets to better understand the connection between the countries from which they are coming and Barbados, and in some cases, get to know that they are closer to Barbados than they first appreciated," Mr. Stuart pointed out.
Admitting that the exercise was educational as Bridgetown sparkled with an exciting past, he said he was impressed with "the history that lies behind so much of what we in Barbados take for granted".
The Prime Minister noted that Barbados has been a central point for historic development and the movement of history in this region. He continued: "It is important that we try as far as possible to preserve this story [and] where it is possible, to preserve a lot of the architecture of Bridgetown.
"… Having seen what I have seen and having heard what I heard, I think there is much in which we should want to involve our school children and a case will certainly be made out for this kind of information being passed on to them and for them to be put in a position to, in some cases, earn money by taking people on tours of Bridgetown and so on."
Chairperson of the Barbados World Heritage Committee, Mark Cummins, disclosed that the Management Plan for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison had been recently submitted to UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris. This operational plan was developed in consultation with many stakeholders and encompasses the current plans and legislative measures that are in place to manage and preserve the Site.
Mr. Cummins said the Management Plan would govern the period 2010 to 2015. "We have set out a number of action plans within that management plan where each specific group has its own plan in terms of the things which need to be done, in order to ensure, not only that Barbados is inscribed, but what will happen after inscription. We do not want to be successful in gaining inscription and then do not have a plan that can take us forward because every year after inscription, we are required to do a report which gives an update of what is happening within the World Heritage Site," he explained.
The chairperson stated that community meetings would soon be held to update stakeholders – residents and owners – within the Historic Bridgetown and Garrison area, as well as members of the public, about the nomination.
Bridgetown was, at one time in its history, the most important city in all of the British possessions in the New World. It contains several historical sites and spaces, including Parliament Buildings, Trafalgar Square, the Jewish Synagogue, the old Mutual Building, the Carnegie Library and its two bridges. The Garrison is the most "complete" remaining British colonial fortification of its kind anywhere in the world and it contains over 80 historical buildings.
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is historically acknowledged for its outstanding universal value.