Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has described Speightstown as a heritage resource that is yet to be tapped.
He expressed this view Friday night while delivering the feature address at a ceremony to re-open the Speightstown Branch of the Barbados Lumber Company.
Mr. Stuart said that the heritage concept had gained ground in Barbados since the designation of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
???This has refocused interest on the unexploited potential of places like Speightstown, opening our horizons to the tremendous possibilities for heritage tourism and related activities,??? he stated.??He pointed out that over the years, a number of efforts had been made to revitalise Speightstown.
He promised that his Government, through the newly-formed Barbados Tourism Product Authority and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth, would continue to pursue initiatives to rejuvenate this town and ensure the preservation of its heritage value.
Mr. Stuart said Government had been blamed for the absence of the desired level of vibrant business activity in Speightstown. However, he reminded his audience that when the Special Development Areas Act was enacted in 1996, four areas – Carlisle Bay, Speightstown, St. Lawrence Gap and the Scotland District – were singled out for special development.
He noted that the Act listed a number of activities for which concessions would be granted, such as commercial or industrial buildings, including office complexes; other facilities directed towards the improvement or expansion of services to the tourism sector; water-based activities; tourism projects highlighting the heritage and natural environment of Barbados; and arts and cultural investments.
He added that the Act exempts investors from import duty, VAT on inputs for the construction of new buildings and the renovation or refurbishment of existing buildings, and land tax on the improved value of the land, among others.
The Prime Minister indicated that suggestions were made recently that the rebuilding of the jetty, attracting small tourist liners and instituting water taxis would further enhance the Speightstown area.
???These are precisely the kinds of activities targeted by the Special Development Areas Act. So I use this opportunity to ask potential investors: What more are you waiting for?
???There is too much on offer in the Special Development Areas Act, and the Cultural Industries Act, amongst others, to justify any lack of interest in investment in Speightstown,??? he contended.
The Prime Minister expressed the view that business owners and residents of Speightstown must be a part of the effort to revitalise this historic town, and encouraged companies like that responsible for the recent Port Ferdinand Development, and Shopsmart, to become actively involved in this revitalisation.