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Celebrating our heritage

Barbados could soon be looking at its own heritage and arts festival.

That’s because Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, and Crop-Over organisers, the National Cultural Foundation, are so impressed with the growth of the heritage events that are a part of this year’s festival that they are looking at the possibility of expanding beyond Crop-Over in “the very near future”.

In addition to the response of Barbadians, Lashley said they had also seen positive responses from hotels, making it clear that the heritage information was circulating in tourism circles as well.

“What it does highlight is that there is definitely an interest in extending the heritage walk beyond Crop-Over, so that in the near future we are exploring having our heritage walks in particular extended beyond the Crop-Over season, because we are convinced based on the response that there is a captive audience and market for our heritage walks.

“In fact, we will be exploring including our heritage walks in our tourism calendar as well and I believe that this is a great opportunity also in relation to Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, where it dovetails into our plan to have trained tour guides particularly young people being involved in this activity as an entrepreneur activity,” he said.

The prospects for tourism were very real, he said, adding that they had already held preliminary discussions with this year’s sponsors, BTI, to take that product forward and making it a reality in the “very near future”.

This year, with the addition of online ticketing, Lashley said the heritage walks as well as the heritage lecture and tour were sold out events, with them even having to turn away patrons from the walks.

“One of the things we are looking at doing, as I mentioned the intent to grow new festivals and have spoken about having at least a Barbados or Bridgetown arts festival on the cards, and we are currently exploring the possibility of having such a festival.

“This, once we can have this festival brought to fruition will actually see a lot of avenue for heritage and we have a good brand that is emerging that will certainly be exploited. So these are encouraging signs and I believe the public education that has been put in place over the last couple of months and certainly from last year in relation to heritage and our World Heritage property has certainly been very successful and we will continue to do that. “What we are going to do now is turn this into more opportunities for mass events and perhaps a grand festival in addition to what we do at Crop-Over and certainly doing other heritage events throughout the year,” said Lashley. (LB)

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