The first ever Dive Festival put on by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and the Barbados Dive Operators Association (BDOA) in partnership with the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) and the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) officially got underway yesterday.
As part of the festival, the BDOA and Barbados Blue Water Sports collaborated to put on a beach cleanup, which resulted in significant amounts of garbage being removed from the reefs just off Carlisle Bay.
And it prompted a plea from the chief executive officer of the BHTA, Rudy Grant, to citizens to stop littering at sea and endangering marine life.
“It is important that we keep our environment clean for the enjoyment not only for present Barbadians, but for future generations and visitors as well. We want to encourage Barbadians to pay special attention and focus on the environment on land as well,” he said.
Grant gave thumbs up to the Dive Festival, noting that marine operators have been reporting a boost in business.
“Many of the dive shops have been indicating that they have been seeing some increase in bookings. Of course, it’s the first year, [and] the focus really was on creating that awareness. Next year we will ensure that we engage in future marketing to bring more numbers to (Barbados),” he said. “We believe that we can properly utilize this to see more tourism numbers and increase activity for a festival like this.”
Marine biologist and owner of Dive Barbados Blue, Andre Miller, echoed some of Grant’s sentiments, expressing his frustration with the way Barbadians are polluting the sea.
He said that just a month ago, the BDOA collected eight large bags of garbage during of a 300-metre stretch at Pebbles Beach, and he was seeing trash there again.
“Barbadians need to do better….Barbadians, please, this is your island, take care of it. Mosquitoes are breeding, we are killing our fish and turtles we need to get serious as a people,” he said.
Miller said there would be several activities during the Dive Festival that Barbadians could benefit from.
“We are going to be teaching children to dive and snorkel, and we are going to be having night dives at the Arawak Cement Plant for certified divers. On Friday is our meet-and-greet and Saturday is the big East Coast lionfish hunt and grill,” he said, adding that there would be cleanups in Conset Bay and Martin’s Bay in St John as well.
Miller added that the main purpose of the festival was to help protect Barbados’ environment and create more marine parks.
“Our reefs are affected by overfishing right now; we need to tackle that….Secondly, we need to get more Barbadians into the water and we need our guests that come here to realize that Barbados is open for diving and we have world-class dive sites and the dive sector continues to grow. This is the first year of the festival and we only expect it to get bigger and better,” he said.