After putting with up with a less than desirable situation on the south coast for some time, a number of restaurants along the once sewage-plagued tourist belt came together in an effort to promote dining in that part of the island.
Through a programme dubbed Dine South – Passport to the South, individuals were able to eat at eight different restaurants between October and December and win weekly prizes, with the opportunity to win big in a final draw.
Under the programme, which was primarily designed to promote the south coast as the culinary capital of the island, individuals would travel to the participating restaurants with their “passport”, a booklet, in which they would receive a stamp from each location after dining.
In the end they had the opportunity to enter for a grand prize draw, and on Friday three lucky diners walked away with the top prizes.
Prior to presenting the winning diners with their awards at the Naru restaurant and lounge, Co-owner of that eatery Lisa Taylor, who is responsible for conceptualizing the idea, said getting the other restaurants and sponsors to participate was easy.
In addition, the enthusiastic restaurateur said she was encouraged by the participation from Barbadians and was already thinking about a “bigger, better and better organized” south dining initiative for 2019.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams lauded the private sector companies for their efforts in promoting dining on the south coast.
Acknowledging that the last couple years had been very difficult for south coast businesses, Abrahams said he was aware some had to close and others had to “stretch themselves to keep going”.
However, thanking the restaurants and other businesses in the area for their patience while Government tackled the issue, Abrahams, whose ministry was responsible for ridding the area of the raw sewage, said it was an issue he just had to fix in the shortest possible time.
“We could not let any other businesses close,” he said.
“I am glad that you took the initiative, once the problem had been abated, to put a programme out there and to publicize yourself and generate business for yourself,” said Abrahams.
He said he believed the Dine South initiative could be a springboard for businesses on the south coast to generate business during the off-peak tourist season.
“Barbadians have money in their pockets as well. Barbadians are valuable customers. Let us not just look to the people coming in to drive our business, we have to look as well to ways to get Barbadians into our business places and to spend money with us . . . your business should not suffer because the tourist season is low,” said Abrahams.
After about two years of having to endure raw sewage often bubbling up in the streets, which was accompanied by a foul stench, Government was finally able to put a temporary fix in place at the start of this year.
Also lauding the south coast restaurants for their efforts was Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. William Billy Griffith, who said the Dine South programme was a demonstration of “the power” of the private sector.
“This is exactly what we are trying to encourage and I salute every one of you. I think the food element in Barbados is a significant one,” said Griffith, who promised an elevated Food and Rum Festival this year.
President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Patricia Affonso Dass echoed similar sentiments, adding that the initiative spoke to the “power of partnerships”.
“It is really what the south coast of Barbados is all about. I know we have, for a long time told the story that the west is best, but the south is where it is at,” said Affonso-Dass.
“At the end of the day, the data is telling us that guests want a more real experience where they want to get out into the communities in which they visit and they want to experience the local environment and I think you guys are giving them the opportunity to do that by showcasing what local small business is all about,” she said.
The eight restaurants taking part in the Dine South event were Naru Restaurant and Lounge, Salt Cafe, Ackee Tree restaurant, Tapas, Chutney’s, Champers, Blakey’s Bar and Restaurant and Bubba’s. There were several other partners and sponsors for the initiative.
Walking away with the grand prize was Dean Douglin, with a cruise for two aboard the Carnival Fascination. Second prize went to Nicole Hustler, who got a South Beach staycation, while Mikeila Carrington captured the third place prize of a Dine South experience for two. (MM)