While potential investors stand by to pump half million dollars into repairing the Speightstown jetty, Barbados is losing out on thousands of dollars every day it remains closed.
That was the charge of a group of tourism stakeholders who said that investors were ready and willing to spend the money but could not get the necessary “paperwork”.
Hal Austin, facilitator of the newly formed Barbados Association of Tourism Employees (BATE), said a number of sea operators were willing to take more visitors to the area via the sea but because the jetty was closed they were not able to do so.
“We have two potential investors who are willing to fix that jetty so we can have a return of schooners, water taxis, the catamarans and the fishing boats. Right now the fishing boats have to go to Bridgetown and they have to then get transportation to bring their fish down,” he said.
“I am totally at a loss because one of the investors told us that he had approval since March from Cabinet to fix that and he can’t seem to get the paperwork to go forward. The other one just two weeks ago made an offer to fix it, and there might even be a third interest as well.”
He did not disclose the identities of the potential investors, but businesswoman Shirley Reid said they lived in Barbados.
Austin, who is also the project coordinator of the St Lawrence Gap revitalization programme, said repairs to the jetty would cost about $500,000 and take up to three months to complete.
“The catamarans are willing to come, the schooners, the water taxis, they all express interest in bringing their clients to Speightstown to shop, walk around . . . .
“So once we can get the Government to partner with these private investors to get it up and running that can be a big catalyst for the businesses in Speightstown.” he said.
Meanwhile, Reid suggested that once the jetty was restored businesses in the northern town would get more customers.
“If you could get that jetty going it could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of people. It could actually wake up Speightstown. That jetty is key because access via beach is key,” she said.
“It will bring business. There are businesses that are closing like crazy around here because they’ve got no people. So if you can actually open that and bring people by boat, they will wander up and down the town and if it gets back its historical value it will be the place to come and it will just come alive. It is just a matter of getting the people in.”
Reid said because of the state of the area many businesses were closing.
Last year, at least four businesses were said to have closed in Speightstown.
“A lot of people would like to save it and make it blossom and bloom. If you look down the road it is just so sad,” Reid said.
She also called on authorities to consider constructing a boardwalk from Holetown to Speightstown, which she said could be another way of encouraging more people to venture into the area.