Heritage on their mind: UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, speaking to Professor Pedro Welch and Dr. Karl Watson while Ms. Bokova’s husband, Kalin Mitrev, walks ahead of them during a tour of Bridgetown today. (A.Miller/BGIS)

Barbados has come in for high praise from UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, who said she was "very impressed" with the "drive, effort and ambition to preserve and to protect" Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.

While touring the area today, less than 24 hours after it was officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Property, Ms. Bokova stated: "I hope this [interest] continues because once we have inscribed this property, it is very important to manage it very well. And I see here…there are knowledgeable people who are doing this and I have an extremely positive impression [of their management]."

She described the historic part of Bridgetown as very diverse, with buildings showing the incredible cultural diversity of the island. "There are buildings which have incredible authenticity; [and] there are others which should be preserved, should be restored and should be part of this wonderful architectural complex," she suggested.

While delivering the feature address at yesterday’s inscription ceremony, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had lamented that only eight World Heritage Sites were within CARICOM countries and Ms. Bokova disclosed that efforts were ongoing to increase that number. She explained that they had discussed the issue of balancing the list of world heritage sites, so as to encourage those countries that did not have sites inscribed to seek to have them included on the list.

She explained that a number of important workshops had been developed on capacity building for the Caribbean and she was hopeful that more sites would be inscribed over the next few years.

Acknowledging that development was sometimes very detrimental to protecting such sites, the Director General declared: "We don’t want to stop the development, but we believe that authenticity and history help to bring more economic life and more revenue…"


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