What do Paul Duff, Terence Browett, John Walmark, Joe Schuler, Marcus Clarke, Geoffrey Padgham, Sam Burns, Bill Kent, Peter Quinlan and Alex Currie have in common?
They have all been visitors to Barbados who have been expressing disappointment at the dirty way we keep our little island. By writing letters to the editor – and signing their names – they have been telling us how dirty and untidy we are.
The latest visitor we’ve let down, Alex Currie, wrote this week: “I constantly hear members of the BTMI (Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.) preaching about “The Barbados Brand”. Is the picture of trash-laden streets, food containers and beverage cans the Barbados brand?”
Gentlemen, we like it so; we are comfortable with litter; it is part of our landscape. We don’t even notice it. Haven’t you noticed how we step over and around it on our sidewalks?
If you had looked a little closer, you would have seen the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the plastic cups and bags and the styrofoam food containers we toss at the roadside and into the gutters. I’m glad you returned home before those larvae became adults to extract some of your blood in exchange for dengue or chikungunya
When a sizeable number of folk like you stop coming, our Barbados tourism authorities will mount a campaign to woo you back.
We will board planes (the Minister will likely go first-class, as usual) and fly around your country with a 30-member retinue of officials, cultural ambassadors, fire-eaters, stilt-walkers, calypsonians, limbo dancers and a green monkey, and beg you to come back to “Beautiful Barbados, our island in the sun”.
How many more visitors will it take to warn us that we are rapidly destroying our environment and with it, our economy?
A few years ago, a former United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan flattered us with a comment that “Barbados punches above its weight”. No one thought of asking him: “How much do we weigh?”