Businesses in Pelican Village are keeping their fingers crossed that a new initiative designed to bring increased traffic to a now ‘ghost town’ is successful.
Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds this morning announced that the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc would be launching an event entitled ‘Festive Fridays’ at the Pelican Craft Centre.
The weekly event will kick off on May 17 from 4 p.m. and has been conceptualized to attract more cruise passengers to the area.
At this morning’s press conference, Symmonds said initiatives were needed to encourage cruise ship passengers to spend more during their stop in Barbados.
He said a recent study done by the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA) revealed that while cruise visitors spent an average of US$100 at each destination, visitors to Barbados were spending only US$65.
“This simply is not acceptable…and in my judgment that is completely reprehensible because I believe Barbados can do better,” Symmonds said.
In selecting the venue to host the event, the minister said Pelican Village was chosen in an effort to revive the location.
“On every occasion when we have a cruise ship in town on a Friday we have an opportunity to have a craft market offered to those passengers. Two thousand or 3000 people, therefore, can be brought to the Pelican area where we all know that for the longest time, Pelican Village has been something approximating a tombstone experience on afternoons,” Symmonds said.
When Barbados TODAY visited the deserted Craft Centre this afternoon, some of the small businesses operating there said they were waiting with baited breath to see if the event would translate into increased business for them.
Owner of Crystal Forms Jamal Ifill told Barbados TODAY that business had been extremely slow for the year. He said he was hoping the event would be well attended and would lead to more sales.
“I’m optimistic because once you have a small business you have to be. I will wait and see but I am really hoping the initiative will bring some much needed revenue,” Ifill, who has been operating in Pelican Village for the past 15 years said.
“Things have been extremely slow and dead for this first season, so we will see what happens on Friday.”
Chantal Selman, who runs the Light Body Wholistic Clinic said even though she runs a niche market she was still looking forward to seeing more visitors.
She lauded the authorities for starting the initative in the off season, which meant it would gain momentum by the time the winter season came around.
“I like the idea of us starting it now so we can build momentum when tourists get here so they’re an addition and not the base.
“If all the other businesses participate I can see it being successful, but to tell the truth we need to see consistency. I don’t think this Friday is going to be the biggest event as it is the first, but once they are consistent with letting us do it every Friday then I think it will build into something,” Selman said.
She said while her business was “doing alright” as most of her clients were locals, she admitted that Pelican Village had become a graveyard in recent years.
“To tell the truth Pelican Village is in a horrible state. I was here for 11 years and I’ve seen it go from thousands of people and hundreds of people passing through to nothing. It’s ridiculous,” she insisted.
A craft vendor who asked not to be identified told Barbados TODAY that any effort to revitalize the area was welcomed.
She said with it being the off season and with only a few cruise ships visiting the island weekly, she did not know how many tourists would be present.
She did say that it would attract more Barbadians, which could in turn lead to more business.