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EDITORIAL – Ridding beach of bad apples

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL – Ridding beach of bad apples

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LAST MONDAY the National Conservation Commission (NCC) held a meeting with the beach vendors at the Queen’s Park Steel Shed to discuss problems that have arisen on the beaches under the control of the commission. By all accounts, it was a heated meeting and as one report said, tempers flared.
Our beaches are national assets. They are the patrimony of the people and with an economy based on the invisible export of tourism, our beaches are exceedingly important to the visual and other promotion of our tourism product.
Yet, because of the nature of the beach, tourists and visitors interact sometimes at the most personal level there. And therein lies the issue, for a bad impression forged at such a personal level will be a potent and undesirably bad advertisement for our country. The contrary is true. A favourable experience forged between a tourist and any Barbadian, on the beach or otherwise, may create a lifelong ambassador for this island.
The NCC is therefore right to try to understand the issues concerning the operations of beach vendors and to seek to come to an understanding with the vendors in order to rid the beach of those vendors who are guilty of unsavoury practices which can harm the tourism experience of a visitor.
We are particularly pleased that NCC chairman Tony Lowe has brought these matters to public attention because all Barbadians need to be mobilized against the kind of behaviour which plagues visitors, hoteliers and even some locals.
It is alarming to say the least that problems of the sale of alcohol at reduced prices is causing a problem on the beaches, and the NCC needs to let the public know exactly how such selling, at what can only be “cut prices”, has become a matter for their attention. This information should be passed on to the police so that the law can be enforced if the law is being broken in this respect.
We expect that the commission and the police have been doing everything in their power to curb and stamp out the sale of illegal drugs on the beach. Yet, we are not so naïve not to know that some visitors will be eager to indulge in the use of such narcotics while in a relaxed atmosphere away from home.
And we anticipate they will ferret out those with local knowledge which may be useful in the furtherance of these pastimes. But the law must be respected, and encouragement to break the law from one visitor may conduce to the most irksome interference with the peace and enjoyment of another visitor.
While we are weeding out the bad apples, we must not tar every beach vendor or beach operator with the same brush. Many of these young men and women are on the front line of those who do a fine job selling the Barbados experience in such a positive way that they are virtually unpaid ambassadors for this country, and they deserve the fullest praise.
The focus must therefore be on regulating licensed vendors and operators who keep within the established rules. Encouraging or mandating the use of standardized T-shirts or other distinguishing marks should make it easier to identify and weed out those miscreants, who have a right to be on the beach – but have no right to tarnish our good tourism product.