As Barbados prepares to officially join the list of elite countries that have a UNESCO World Heritage Property, citizens are being encouraged to take advantage of this nearly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and be a part of the inscription ceremony for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison this Wednesday, June 13.

It will be at the Garrison Savannah, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, has urged all Barbadians to be a part of this historic occasion.

??"I want all Barbadians to come out to the inscription ceremony which is so important that no one should miss it…?? It is something that you will not be able to witness again unless we have another inscription in the future.?? Executives from UNESCO will be in Barbados to be part of the ceremony and we have invited Ministers from all over the Caribbean to be here.

"We are a small country but, of course, we are being recognised because of the true outstanding universal significance of our Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison. This designation is a point to further market our country and it is important for heritage tourism because persons will become curious enough to want to visit Barbados," Mr. Lashley declared.

He noted that the finishing touches were now being applied and he had been informed that they were on track to ensuring that "the ceremony is extremely successful".??

The Minister pointed out that school children would be in attendance at the ceremony, particularly those in the vicinity of the historic property.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart will deliver the feature address during the evening’s proceedings and he will later unveil the inscription plaque and receive the inscription certificate from UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova. Mr. Lashley and Ms. Bokova will give remarks, while Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, will unveil the signage. There will be performances by Gabby, Rupee, Pinelands Creative Workshop and the Barbados Landship, the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, the St. Leonard’s Boys’ Choir and the Regiment Band in Zouave uniform, among others.

UNESCO World Heritage sites belong to all the people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. They are "places on earth that are of Outstanding Universal Value to humanity", and are, therefore, inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

There are 936 World Heritage Sites, including Old Havana and its Fortifications in Cuba, the Pitons Management Area in St. Lucia, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts & Nevis, the Pyramids in Egypt and the Grand Canyon in the USA.

Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is approximately 450 acres. It has been described as "an integral part of the maritime, commercial and military administration of the British Empire and its colonies in the Caribbean" for much of its urban history. Historic Bridgetown has retained the ancient street layout and alleys that once served as passageways for pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles for several centuries.

In addition to its rich legacy, Bridgetown contains several historical sites and spaces, including the Parliament Buildings, Trafalgar Square, the Jewish Synagogue, the Old Mutual Building, the Carnegie Library and the Charles Duncan O’Neal and Chamberlain bridges. The Garrison, on the other hand, is said to be the most "complete" remaining colonial fortification of its kind anywhere in the world. Approximately 100 structures have survived and most of them are "essentially unaltered and in well preserved conditions".

Barbados fought a successful battle and received the inscription on June 25, 2011, in Paris. The designation will not only allow this country to instill national pride and showcase its culture, but Barbadian entrepreneurs are expected to create new businesses. World Heritage status will allow Barbados greater access to international support through financial aid and technical assistance for the preservation and conservation of the Property.

It will also encourage more sustainable development within the area and reports have suggested that the level of interest among developers has already increased.

The tourism sector is expected to record a boost in visitor arrivals as research on the benefits of World Heritage properties indicates that there is enhanced tourism image and profile, and increased opportunities for niche branding of local products and services, among others. Cultural heritage travellers are said to spend on average US $994 per trip, compared to US $611 for all other travellers; they take about five trips per person and they spend longer in the location.

It is evident that this designation will give Barbados prestige and status across the world, as well as international recognition as a country committed to the protection and preservation of the world’s shared cultural heritage. So, let us show how proud we are of our country’s achievement and celebrate it, by being at the inscription ceremony with our families this Wednesday, June 13.????


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