Educate your visitors about the dangers of tsunamis and other coastal hazards!
This was among recommendations given to the management and staff of the Turtle Beach and Crystal Cove hotels by Acting Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Lorna Inniss, during a presentation at Turtle Beach Hotel this morning.
Inniss noted that when the Chile tsunami struck in 2010, 524 people were killed, with a number of them being tourists.
“One recommendation I would make to the hotels is to have education programmes for their customers to teach them the basics,” she said.
She explained that those programmes did not necessarily have to involve workshops and seminars, but having adequate signage in place and providing fliers to visitors so they would know what to do if they were on the beach and realised they were in imminent danger.
Concerning Turtle Beach, Inniss said: “We would want to know where to go if water levels increased by two feet. Your entire ground floor would be in danger. You need to look at the installations on the ground floor,” she stressed.
She added that for coastal hotels, her recommendation was for vertical evacuation, if the integrity of the building was trusted.
However, she stressed that the key to surviving a tsunami and having a good response was “education”.
“It would be nice if all the hotels in the area came together and decided what they would do,” she stated.
In addition, developers are also being encouraged to leave their ground floors open to be used as car park space. “[Ideally] you should have to go upstairs to get to the lobby. That way you would lose cars and not people if something happens,” she said, adding houses along the coast should also be on pillars.
Inniss cautioned that until all Barbadians and visitors were aware and educated in the appropriate response to a tsunami hazard, then it was possible that what happened in Chile, Japan and Haiti, could happen in Barbados.
However, she described the presentation as a “landmark” in the tourism industry, and congratulated the management of the hotels for their initiative in starting the process. Inniss added that she hoped it would lead the way in the tourism sector to get other hoteliers to focus on coastal hazards.