Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley has taken the position, that a well managed world heritage property in Barbados, could bring in substantial foreign exchange.
Delivering the main address at the opening of a three-day meeting of experts on Expanding the Socio-Economic Potentail of Cultural Heritage in the Caribbean, at the Amaryllis Hotel this morning, Lashley said:
“Once managed well, our world heritage property can play a critical role in our thrust in Barbados to increase our foreign exchange earnings, while providing exciting commercial opportunities for our young entrepreneurs.”
He suggested that before Barbados could formulate effective strategies for expanding its socio-economic potential of cultural heritage, it had to first identify the actual needs of the region in this regard.
“This is a critical first step as we move towards the achievement of our objectives,” the minister added. “Phase one of this project will therefore be very helpful, and will also identify opportunities for regional collaboration and for capacity building.”
The culture minister added that it was critical that Barbados measure the economic and social benefits of world heritage inscription.
“We need, for example, to collect visitor statistics and I suggest that this is an area in which the OAS and UNESCO can offer assistance, since the resulting data can be of enormous importance to the collection and analysis of such data on a global scale,” reasoned Lashley.
The project, with phase one focussing on needs assessment and project selection, is being executed by the OAS. Its local representative, Francis McBarnette said this initial phase would include a detailed analysis of needs and opportunities in the region, development of a framework for regional collaboration and planning, and recommendations regarding possible future pilot programmes which could serve as models.
“This meeting is therefore the first step in a journey to a regional collaboration which will ensure that we continue to protect and promote our cultural heritage and in a determined manner, seek to expand the vast and largely untapped socio-economic benefits,” McBarnette explained.
During the next three days, stakeholders will examine the broad themes of “Developing Sustainable Protection and Public Engagement Practices to Address Socio-Economic Challenges” and “Expanding Protection Funding and Human Resources Capacity”. (EJ)†