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Barbados makes the list!
Historic Bridgetown, Garrison named UNESCO World Heritage Site
By Allison Ramsay
Barbados’ Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site yesterday.
In an interview with The Barbados Advocate from Paris, France, just moments after Barbados made its presentation to the UNESCO’s 35th World Heritage Committee Meeting, Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley expressed his elation at the Committee’s decision.
“I’m very pleased to say to all Barbadians that the efforts of Barbados to have Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO have been successful,” said Minister Lashley who headed the delegation to Paris.
“This is a moment to truly celebrate. It shows that although being a small country, that Barbados can boast of having a site that can stand on its own and that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the prestigious sites of world class heritage across the world. So this is truly a moment that I believe all Barbadians can be proud,” he continued.
Minister Lashley explained that inscription on this list means that Barbados joins a group of countries that have inscribed heritage sites and will heighten the level of cultural and heritage interest of the country and its tourism.
Speaking about heritage tourism, the minister said that he believes that it will step up now to a completely new level.
“Historic Bridgetown and the Garrison are two of the most important sites on the island and once this news reaches the international media it will not only help promote heritage tourism, but Barbados as a destination,” he said.
“The site would become a pivotal point of interest, particularly for persons who are interested in heritage. Indeed, the element of heritage tourism is one of the fastest growing components of tourism which means that the fact Barbados has been successful in this particular venture augurs well for our heritage tourism evolution and for tourism on a whole,” he continued.
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison is the first heritage site of Barbados to enter the World Heritage List. In so doing, Barbados joins the UNESCO World Heritage List, which provides for the protection of a select number of cultural and natural properties considered by the World Heritage Committee to be of exceptional universal value. There are some 890 of these sites worldwide.
In emphasising the historical importance of the Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison site, the Minister said, “The Garrison was used by the English as a means of reinforcing the protection of the entire chain of Caribbean islands from invasion. The importance of Historic Bridgetown was impacted by the forced movement of the enslaved from the African continent to Barbados.
Bridgetown was used as a major trans-shipment point for African slaves.”
According to him, the importance of this successful bid is enhanced as this year has been designated by the United Nations as the year to recognise all persons of African descent.
“The world body inscribed Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison on this very prestigious list of World Heritage sites. This comes after many months of hard work by a truly dedicated team of professionals, several of whom are with me as part of our delegation in Paris.”
“As Minister responsible for Culture, I am truly impressed by the level of dedication that they have shown. I want to pay tribute to all the members of our delegation to Paris who have worked tirelessly and the officers of the Ministry who have also been involved in ensuring that the preparatory work could be executed to ensure that we could deliver a first class presentation. I really must pay tribute to them upfront because of the hard work and dedication that they have shown leading to this result,” he continued.
The Barbados delegation included Director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society (BMHS), Alissandra Cummins; Deputy Director of the BMHS, Kevin Farmer; temporary Lecturer, Department of History, University of the West Indies, Dr. Tara Inniss; Director of the Natural Heritage Department, Ministry of the Environment, Steve Devonish; Barbados’ Permanent Representative in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Marion Williams; and First Secretary of the Permanent Mission in Brussels, Belgium, Joyce Grazette.
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison site was considered for nomination after Barbados became signatory to the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage Convention in 2002. Barbados submitted the nomination dossier to UNESCO World Heritage Centre on February 1, 2009, and that was among 45 proposals which were examined by the World Heritage Committee in June 2010. A total of 35 nominations including natural, cultural and mixed properties are being reviewed by the Committee. The session will end on June 29.