Barbados’ tourism product should be in for a boost when a section of the famous Garrison Tunnel is opened to the public by August.
When the “huge” and different tourism attraction, part of the World Heritage property of Bridgetown And Its Garrison, opens, hundreds of Barbadians and visitors are expected to walk through, as peak interest in its wonders has already been expressed locally and internationally.
This morning, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley officially opened the Garrison Tunnel Project at a groundbreaking ceremony at George Washington House.
Two hundred feet of the tunnel, which is actually over 3,000 feet long, will be opened to the public, with safe entry and exit.
The project which is being spearheaded by the Barbados Garrison Historic Consortium Inc. and Bush Hill Tourism Trust, largely funded by the Tourism Development Corporation, is estimated to cost $100 000.
Following the ceremony, Peter Stevens, vice-president of the Garrison Consortium, told Barbados TODAY that the tunnel, built around 1818 during the British Army period on the island, was discovered by the Consortium in 2011.
“The tunnel is quite amazing in how it is constructed, and some sections are 12 feet tall, which is kind of spectacular. You are seeing what people built by hand, and we are using equipment to put in the entrances. It is different from Harrison’s Cave which is a natural wonder, while this is a man-made utility.
“The engineer on the project says that it is a spectacular engineering feat, and he equates it to the Deep Water Harbour, considering the tools that they were using, how accurately they built it and the fact that they built it as a non-maintenace construction,” he said.
Stevens added: “Right now we are expecting a lot of Barbadians to come and see it when it opens. We rediscovered this network in 2011, and since that time there has not been a week that somebody has not approached us and asked us when are they are going to get to go down in that tunnel. The interest locally is phenomenal.”
In his remarks, Minister of Culture Lashley said he believed when the project was completed it would create an opportunity for visitors to witness an aspect of the country’s rich heritage. He said the groundbreaking ceremony had signalled that Barbados was not only onboard in obtaining the UNESCO World Heritage designation, but was equally focused on preserving its heritage.
“The Government of Barbados cannot do it alone. The work to be done to preserve the historic structures, which falls within our World Heritage property is certainly immense. This is a job for all Barbadians, and in particular through collaborations with the private sector. I see this particular commencement of another phase of the exploration of the tunnels as being part of that important part of the collaboration which I hope would continue . . . .”
The minister also noted that recently the Cabinet had made the decision to have the Garrison Consortium incorporated within the Barbados World Heritage Committee
as a full member.