On the eve of the busy winter tourism season, which runs from late December to mid April, the Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Rudy Grant is calling on the authorities to urgently clean up the sewage mess along the country’s south coast.
Responding to recent reports of sewage leaks, Grant described the situation as both “unacceptable” and “untenable”, while warning that the current image of the south coast was not the one that Barbados would wish to present at this time.
He therefore called on the authorities to immediately remedy the problem, while warning that “it had the potential to negatively impact ‘Brand Barbados’ and cost millions of dollars in visitor receipts if it becomes a subject of concern in our source markets.
“This matter concerns us not only from the perspective of the impact on the tourism industry, but also as it relates to the welfare and well-being of Barbadians and visitors,” Grant said.
He also suggested a three-pronged approach to resolving the problem.
“There is a need for an immediate short-term remedy and a plan to ensure that this situation is not exacerbated. Equally important is a remedial plan to clean the streets as soon as possible after these spills and the communication of this information to residents and businesses [and] there is also a need for a medium to long term-plan to effectively deal with any recurrence,” he said, adding that the BHTA was prepared to work with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to effect such a resolution.
The BHTA statement coincided with yesterday’s visit by three Opposition Barbados Labour Party representatives – Wilfred Abrahams, Dr William Duguid and Ralph Thorne – to Worthing, Christ Church, which is one of the areas hardest hit by the foul smelling leaks.
During that visit, BLP candidate for Christ Church South Ralph Thorne, who is a Queen’s Counsel, strongly advised the affected residents and businesses to seek legal redress, amid the out-of-control situation, which now poses a health hazard.
However, businessman Ray George, who has been forced to shut down his catering company at Worthing due to the sporadic overflows of effluent, which have flared up at various points over the past 12 months, made it clear that he was not about to mount a legal challenge on his own but said he was quite amenable to being part of a class action suit against Government.
Businessman Keith Turton, who owns apartments on the south coast, also said he had no problem with being part of a class action suit against the BWA, while insisting that something had to done about the awful stench which he said was getting worse by the day.
In his statement, Grant also reported that he was informed by a BHTA member that the untenable situation was causing customers at his business to stay away.
“He has further stated that if this situation continues, he may be forced to close his operations as his customers are concerned about the awful stench and possible health implications,” Grant added.