|The Parliament Buildings in Bridgetown|
Barbados is expected to derive numerous benefits from Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison inscription as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, especially in the area of tourism.
That is the view of Permanent Secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports, Shirley Farnum, who said the designation would assist in enhancing this island’s global image and contribute to the marketing of the tourism and cultural products.
"Research has shown that countries which are listed as World Heritage Sites have seen an overall increase in visitors in the region of 30 to 40 per cent. So, this area serves as another plank on which to promote the country and encourage tourists.
"This designation, therefore, while giving Barbados prestige and status all across the world; and international recognition as a country committed to the protection and preservation of the world’s shared cultural heritage would add significantly to the island’s tourism product, making it a more diverse and attractive destination for visitors," Ms. Farnum stated.
According to her, European visitors especially might be attracted to Barbados because of its role in the development of the once powerful British Empire.
The Permanent Secretary emphasised the importance of the inscription, stating that it would offer greater access to international financial aid for the conservation of the country’s tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage. "It is expected that Barbados would become eligible for financial and technical assistance from the World Heritage Committee for the preservation of sites and for developing related educational material," she pointed out.
Ms. Farnum proffered the view that the new designation should also revitalise cultural activity in Bridgetown, leading to more socialising in the city after hours, thereby increasing commercial activity there.
Bemoaning the fact that there was an acute shortage of persons here who were trained in preserving stone, wood and metal works, she said: "Such technical skills are critical to the preservation of listed buildings and monuments. This designation would assist in the creation of jobs and training opportunities in the non-traditional sector of heritage conservation."
While addressing the Crop Over Opening Gala and ceremonial delivery of the last canes last Saturday in Queen’s Park, Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, told his audience that the significance of the recent inscription "must not" be underestimated.
"It represents a phenomenal achievement, not only for Barbados, but for the other countries of CARICOM, for other small former European colonies and for other Small Island Developing States," Mr. Lashley argued.
There are more than 930 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and seven sites are in CARICOM countries. They are Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica; the National History Park in Haiti; Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, St. Kitts; Pitons Management Area, St. Lucia; the Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize; Old Havana and its fortifications in Cuba; and Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison in Barbados.