Government is looking for a partner to develop 459 square metres of crown land at Fort Denmark in Speightstown, St Peter into a major cultural and heritage tourism attraction.
Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman this morning introduced a resolution in Parliament to transfer the land from the Barbados Tourism Investment Incorporated to the National Housing Corporation (NHC), both state entities.
In leading off debate he said the island’s tourism product was stale and needed some fresh attractions.
He also made a case for the development of the rural areas as tourist sites as part of a programme to offer visitors something new ever so often.
In this context, Kellman said Government needed a private partner to buy the historic property and build the heritage area that would act as a springboard for the creation of new tourist sites to include such rural parishes as St Philip, St Andrew and St Peter.
“This piece of land is being vested in National Housing and I am hoping that in investing it in National Housing that they can find a useful partner to help develop the tourism and community tourism project, the heritage of the area, correct the environmental problems, and also maybe, that somebody would be strong enough to recognize the history of the area and help the Minister of Tourism and International Transport in developing his great plans for this country,” he said.
Kellman made reference to Lamberts Hill in St Peter, which he said provides a breathtaking view of the island, and which he described as an ideal location for community tourism, with the potential to introduce visitors to home-cooked dishes.
This, he said, was something the Rural Development Commission (RDC) should consider.
“It is a good location where I think Rural should look and do what I have been asking to be done, where you blend the farming with the open areas and develop it as one of the community sites to be visited because of the fantastic view, and then invite the people to some good old Bajan cooking grown from the lands of Barbados,” said Kellman, who has direct responsibility for the RDC.
However, the minister said whoever was interested in partnering with Government on the project would have to be willing to consider the historic significance and heritage value of the area when they develop the property, “because with the number of forts in the particular area, there is great heritage”.
The minister also said that vesting of the property in NHC would create opportunities for Barbadians to earn a share of the tourism pie by owning property along the coast and renting them to tourists.
“So the north, as it relates to community tourism and development is doing well. And we need to acknowledge that we need now to give it the impetus to allow the north now, to expand the role that it has always played when we first settled this country,” the Member of Parliament for St Lucy stressed.