Bad business

Patricia Affonso-Dass

by Emmanuel Joseph

St. Lawrence Gap, once the heart beat of the South Coast tourist belt, is now all but closed to business.

Business owners, led by the President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Patricia Affonso-Dass, who operates a major hotel in The Gap, are blaming the ever shrinking patronage on a burgeoning and open illegal drug trade, harassment and dinginess of the once attractive cobble stones along the tourist strip.

Affonso-Dass said there was need for more action and less talk, particularly with respect to the crime situation in St. Lawrence Gap, where young men were unrelenting in their harassment of guests day and night and pushing all kind of drugs on them.

She said that no longer could hotels recommend their guests go to any restaurants in The Gap for fear of harassment.

“We need a real commitment to changing the way business is done in Barbados, we need stricter and better enforcement of laws against loitering, soliciting, vagrancy, harassment and littering and we must adopt a zero tolerance approach to these activities in all areas of law enforcement, government, in our business and our communities,” insisted the BHTA leader.

Only yesterday, Affonso-Dass told a quarterly general meeting of her association, that the installation of CCTV cameras in The Gap had recently been completed. She said she hoped this would produce information that would help in stemming “the increase of lawlessness this area.”

The gradually worsening situation has even forced the popular night spot and restaurant, McBrides, to shut down its restaurant and send home eight workers, leaving open only the bar and entertainment section.

“This is the worse summer I have ever experienced since I was operating here for the past nine years. Nothing is being done to clean up The Gap. September is usually a low time in the tourist season, but the crime situation and drugs and dirty streets, have made things even worse,” lamented Greg Smith, owner of McBrides.

Smith recalled that one day a person he knew was offered drugs 16 times between Cafe Sole and his night spot.

He told Barbados TODAY that he was taking the opportunity now to do some repairs to the place and hoped The Gap could be “cleaned up” so he could re-open in six weeks time, in preparation for the beginning of the next tourist season.

The businessman suggested there was need for maintenance of the streets along The Gap, which is paved with the once beautiful cobble stones.

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