University of the West Indies students have proposed a makeover of cultural and heritage attractions in Bridgetown and Oistins in a bid to attract more people and boost tourist spending.
A group recommended five “core strategies” to drive tourism development: collaboration and partnership, development of Bridgetown, expanding the visitor experience, marketing and targeting of new markets, and continuous research.
The suggestions come as Government prepares to embark on a Bridgetown revitalization and transformation project.
The students also recommended the formulation of a task force and annual measurement to determine the improvement’s economic and social impact.
The students said they see the potential for more visitors, more involved residents, economic opportunities, and growth of the local heritage and culinary tourism niche.
The students in the tourism master’s degree programmes at the UWI at Cave Hill, proposed a “strategic plan” involving the setting up of a “multi-stakeholder” group.
The panel would consist of “a team of specialists along with one member from each tourism governing body” in order to carry out the plan, the students proposed.
They said: “The plan will be carried out over a ten-year period.
“Short-term will be from one to two years, mid-term will be three to five years and long-term five to ten years.”
Under the proposed plan, the students said all old buildings would be restored, starting with those of historical significance; seating areas would be enhanced; the aesthetics of the town would be improved “along a folklore/heritage line”; and interactive signage would increase, as would security presence and CCTV surveillance cameras.
Lighting would also be replaced with energy-efficient bulbs and all show windows would be lit.
Restoration of old buildings and improvement of infrastructure would be over the long-term while improvements to the aesthetics of the town would be over the medium-term and other areas would be done over the short-term.
The students suggested that the development funds come mainly from Government, supported by private sector and international business stakeholders.
Among the areas recommended for immediate consideration are Trafalgar Square, Parliament Buildings, Independence Square, The Careenage, St Mary’s Anglican Church, Jubilee Gardens, National Heroes Square, the Chamberlin Bridge and Pelican Village.
But zooming in on Pelican Village, the students suggested that it be The City’s marquee attraction, which would be redeveloped as a cultural heritage, business and leisure (“bleisure”) tourism hub, an information centre for tourists, and a home base for walking and island tours.
The redeveloped location would see improved amenities, free wi-fi, ATM banking, solar photovoltaic systems, 24-hour security and classes being offered in the arts, special events being hosted different nights, and a day care facility.
The plan includes the addition of an overhead footbridge to connect Pelican Village to Trevor’s Way and a lookout point.
The group is proposing that Trevor’s Way become a hangout spot, with improved lighting, and that a jetty be built there.
Officials are also being encouraged to consider various tactics to interest visitors in doing more tours of the island so as the “expand the visitor experience”.
This, they said, should include the development of a “shared loyalty programme or cultural heritage passport with stamps or incentives to visit in off seasons”.
The group said the development would enable the country to be marked as “an island of towns”.
“Engage students, tourists and the general public to create social media videos about their positive tourism experiences on Barbados’ town,” they said.
Another student group is suggesting that by redeveloping Oistins and marketing it as the place “where culinary meets culture”, the Government could rake over $3.5 million in Value Added Tax (VAT).
“It is estimated that the income produced in the area would reach $20.4 million annually,” that group added.
They proposed that revenue from the location could go toward its maintenance, basic infrastructure repairs and the overall upkeep of the environment.
The group said following an environmental impact study, the popular Oistins area should be redeveloped to include culinary, cultural, sporting and adventure activities.
This redevelopment would include a refurbished pier that would house a historical and fish museum and a restaurant that uses the services of students from the Hospitality Institute.
They are also proposing that the area include game fishing with a combined culinary experience and an artificial reef using sunken reef balls.
Traffic to the area would then be through a ferry system and rerouted traffic, while there would be a park and ride system and meter and executive parking.
They also recommended that the bus bay in the area be renovated and transformed into a solar-powered bus depot and that a boardwalk be constructed.
The improved Oistins would consist of a number of promotional activities, there would be an Oistins app developed, and there would be improved amenities including labelled recycle bins. The area also would be wheelchair accessible.