Over the last few decades this country has been losing more and more open windows to the sea along the South Coast, and particularly the West Coast of the island. Many persons have expressed concern about this limited beach access and the impact it has been having on Barbadians’ way of life, all in the name of tourism and tourism development. Unfortunately the matter has never been given the attention it deserves and sadly it cannot now be reversed.
However, all is not lost, as luckily, to date we have not seen such interest being shown in the East Coast and South Eastern part of the island, and they remain for the most part untouched beauty. It is for that reason that we feel systems must be put in place to ensure that rapid development which spoils the landscape of those areas is not introduced for the sake of the almighty dollar.
With the West Coast virtually used up, it is not farfetched to think that sooner rather than later, applications will be making their way to the Town and Country Development Planning Office to develop areas like Bathsheba and along the seaside in St. Philip, St. John and St. Lucy. If then we are not careful, Barbados will lose its island touch and become a concrete jungle surrounded by water. It is much like the long-time argument that has been swirling around in this country about taking agricultural land out of production to meet housing demands. In that case, some persons seem to be interested in the economic bottom line, and not what is in the best interest of this nation – food security. Therefore in that respect, as in the case of tourism development, we need to find the right balance.
It is our sincere hope that the powers that be recognise the mistakes that have been made over the years, and make a conscious effort to preserve what open windows to the sea we have left. One such example is the site of the old district hospital in Oistins, Christ Church, which provides locals and visitors with breathtaking views of the South Coast. Indeed we feel every effort should be made to protect that site. Perhaps Government could seek funding to put in green space, similar to that in the area adjacent to the Central Bank building in the City, as such spaces are sorely lacking in this country. What we definitely do not want to see is another hotel or condominium being built there.
Certainly we are not the first to have called for better management of tourism development on beachfront land in Barbados, as we well recall some persons going as far as to suggest that no new hotel development should be allowed to take place on the seaside of any public road. We are not certain that such a hard line should be taken in respect of future development in such areas, but surely feel strongly that we need to better manage physical development and diversify our tourism market, such that we are not only focused, as so many destinations are, on sun, sea and sand. While traditional hotels inland have not been awfully successful, if done right, we can see boutique hotels and attractions being built inland, to attract and cater to a different type of tourist than we are right now accustomed to. Undeniably, additional attractions are required; we cannot just be building hotels and not giving the visitors more to do than going to the beach.
In our quest to promote Barbados as a first-class destination, our primary goal must be to bring new initiatives on board, as doing such can assist in the promotion of destination Barbados as the best vacation spot in the world.