As Barbados awaits the outcome of its dossier submission on the nomination of Bridgetown and its Garrison as a World Heritage Site, the Ministry of Culture is continuing the process of sensitising Barbadians about this historic undertaking.
To this end, the Ministry will host a second town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 30, at the St. Michael School Auditorium at Martindales Road, at 7:00 p.m. The first was held last August 20, at the National Union of Public Workers headquarters, Dalkeith Road, St. Michael.
Presidents, community and social groups, and business owners in the area are especially invited to attend the meeting to learn more about the dossier, the benefits of a successful nomination and how they can assist in the process.
They can also provide feedback to the panel which includes Curator of History and Archeology at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Kevin Farmer and Director of the Natural Heritage Department, Steve Devonish. The moderator is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Shirley Farnum.
Residents and business owners in Bridgetown are also invited to share their experiences of living and working in Bridgetown and learn of any upcoming events hosted by the Ministry.
The Ministry of Community Development and Culture and the World Heritage Task Force were responsible for overseeing the nomination process for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The Task Force Chairman is Professor Henry Fraser and Vice Chair is Steve Devonish, with the assistance of a special research team.
The World Heritage Convention defines a cultural heritage site as "works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view".
The list presently includes 890 properties across the globe and comprises both cultural and natural heritage sites such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Taj Mahal in India and Stonehenge in England.
There are only five sites located in CARICOM countries – Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Pitons Management Area in St. Lucia, the National History Park in Haiti, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica, and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.
According to Administrative Coordinator of the World Heritage Project, Kimberley Alleyne, there are many benefits which could accrue if Barbados has its site included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
"Statistics indicate that inscription results in a significant increase in the number of visitors to the site, and countries with world heritage sites have reported an overall increase of 30 to 40 per cent in visitors. The inclusion of Bridgetown and the Garrison would, therefore, greatly enhance Barbados’ heritage tourism product," she explained.
Ms. Alleyne added that there has been an imbalance in terms of the distribution of sites across the globe, with some 49 per cent to be found in Europe and North America and about 186 or 21 per cent in Asia and the Pacific.
"In this region, the importance of our history and culture needs to be recognised, and every effort must, therefore, be made to redress this imbalance and to bring to the world’s attention the contribution that our countries have made to global development," the Administrative Coordinator remarked.
In this regard, she revealed that the local World Heritage Task Force has identified two other tentative sites for future nominations. These are the Industrial Heritage of Barbados: The Story of Sugar, a cultural heritage site and the Scotland District, a natural heritage site.
Ms. Alleyne announced that as part of its promotion of the World Heritage Project, the Ministry of Community Development and Culture will host a booth at the Crop-Over Gala on July 3.
"This booth will provide information on the project and will be present for the duration of the gala. Persons are invited to come and ask relevant questions regarding the nomination, as well as gather any information on the tentative list of sites being proposed for nomination." ??The official disclosed.
She added that radio and television advertisements highlighting the historical, cultural and commercial importance of Bridgetown and its Garrison have been planned and should be aired shortly.
While acknowledging that the project had tremendous potential for the island, Ms. Alleyne encouraged Barbadians, not only residents of Bridgetown, to learn more about it and find ways to offer support to the nomination process.
The official noted that the focus on heritage could broaden the scope of Barbados’ overall tourism package, making it more diverse than just sea and sand.
She pointed out that there was also revenue earning potential for communities and individuals.
"The project is not only about the Ministry of Culture but could benefit the whole country. We have an opportunity to do something which is groundbreaking and would not only be beneficial to Barbadians at this point in time but our children and their children," Ms. Alleyne maintained.
Further information on the nomination may be obtained by visiting the site www.bajanworldheritage.com or by contacting the Ministry of Community Development and Culture, 1st Floor, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael at 310-2700, 310-2720 or 310-2746.
Information on the World Heritage Committee and its activities may also be found at the website http://whc.unesco.org/en/list.