Take note of visitors’ concerns
If we have learned anything from this recession, it is the importance of tourism to Barbados. However, when visitors take the time to write letters to the editor, expressing their disgust with the litter found throughout the island, the authorities do nothing about it.
In the WEEKEND NATION of March 27, Geoffrey Padgham, from the United Kingdom, wrote: “Probably my most important point relates to discarded rubbish throughout Barbados. From items thrown into the grass areas all along the highways, rural roads and particularly the natural gullies, to some bad experiences on the island’s beaches, I regularly find beer bottle tops, plastic bags, fast food containers, drinks cans, and, the worst I have witnessed, discarded disposable nappies on the beach. Tourism is the main industry in Barbados both now and in the future, so the island’s cleanliness and image is everything.”
In the Nation on December 4, 2013, the Minister of Environment stated that he would be heading to Parliament with drafted legislation – the Environmental Management Act – which includes “stiff penalties” for a number of littering offences. Nothing happened.
Then in the Nation on June 5, 2014, he said that the Environmental Protection and Management Act was closer to fruition than ever before and that it should be going before Cabinet in the coming weeks. Nothing happened. So I became curious and started emailing the permanent secretary in the ministry of environment requesting information and updates on this supposed act.
I emailed him six times over a three-month period and never received a response. So I called him and he refused to give me any information on the act and told me that I should speak to the minister. I told him that he had a better chance of speaking to the minister than I did, and to date I have had no luck in speaking to the minister.
I also wrote the ministry of tourism about the litter situation and they told me to contact the ministry of the environment. I think that they have a better chance of influencing their fellow ministry than I do.
I find this situation incredibly frustrating. We are killing our tourism product and the people in charge continue to give false promises and don’t do their job. We are facing an epidemic of implementation deficit disorder and it appears that the one thing that we excel at is mediocrity.