A new association has launched an initiative aimed at breathing life back into the sleepy town of Speightstown.
The Barbados Association of Tourism Employees (BATE) today announced that on Saturday, January 17, and every second Saturday of each following month, it will be hosting a Speightstown Fiesta in an effort to attract more people to the area.
Facilitator Hal Austin said that next year the association would also be hosting two conventions that should result in an injection of approximately $50 million into the ailing economy.
Austin spoke of the plans as he officially launched the association at the La Bouche Restaurant in the St Peter town this morning.
BATE is aiming for approximately 50 stalls for each fiesta, providing patrons with a variety of local and Caribbean cuisine, live local entertainment, craft and other Bajan delicacies.
“We believe in resurrection. Speightstown is historic and you know it is one of our first towns . . . We want to assist in having a new marketing initiative to save this little town,” said Austin.
He said the fiesta, which would go from about 3 p.m. until midnight, would give tourists more to see and do when they visited the area.
He said the money raised from the event, which would be marketed throughout the tourism industry, would be used to help fund the beautification of the area, increase lighting, as well as employ a full-time maintenance staff and a host and hostess to welcome visitors to Speightstown.
“All these ideas are very grand but they are also workable,” said Austin, adding that it would be done with the help of corporate Barbados.
“We see this as a win-win for everybody – the tourism industry will benefit from having a nicely kept product, the businesses will benefit because they will have increased revenue.”
Once successful, he said, the fiesta would be extended to Holetown in St James and St Lawrence Gap and Oistins in Christ Church.
In addition to the bi-monthly fiestas, Austin said BATE would be seeking to attract about 16,000 people to the organization.
He said membership would come with discount benefits from over 300 businesses, a group tour regionally and internationally at least once a year, participation in sporting activities as well as training opportunities.
“Our members are going to also be participating in some extra income activities. This extra income will come from marketing and sales of tours . . . all across Barbados,” he said, adding that they would also be carrying out “monthly charitable acts”.
In relation to the planned convention, Austin said BATE would be targeting between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors to the island for the functions that will be held over a ten-day period sometime between June and November 2016.
Austin said so far the association has had discussions with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) and other tourism authorities in order to get some assistance for marketing the events. BATE is also expected to launch a website later this month.