Act now and save our Gap
You couldn’t miss it this weekend. St Lawrence Gap, the now lacklustre and seemingly forgotten entertainment hub of the south coast was back in the spotlight and for good reason.
A committee from the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), spearheading the revitalization of the tourist hot spot, sat down to listen to bold presentations from a group of 12 University of the West Indies students pursuing a masters degree in tourism, who were tasked with writing a “rejuvenation strategy of S. Lawrence Gap”.
Prior to that session, a Barbados TODAY news team visited the area and discovered many closed businesses and for sale signs, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of days gone by.
And we ask how did it come to this? Clearly the cries of residents, business owners and patrons fell on deaf ears and persistent problems were allowed to fester.
Most who spoke to us repeated the age old complaints – poor lighting and the frequent presence of drug peddlers and vagrants, poor sanitation, and high noise level. We have been here before and heard that.
Like most things in Barbados, oft times we are reactive and not nearly as proactive, despite the warning that insanity is to repeat the same action and expect different results.
The Gap has always been touted as an entertainment mecca for tourists and locals, so it’s baffling why a comprehensive plan to develop and market the unique offerings of the popular street has still not taken shape.
But there’s little use in mulling over what should have or could have been done. Rather, we look forward to an ambitious plan to upgrade the Gap.
The BHTA committee has already signalled that the Gap is in line for a major spruce up for the winter season, which is mere weeks away. Beyond that, there are plans to establish an all-inclusive group of people associated with the zone to keep it on track.
We welcome the news and believe that this is the perfect time for residents who are not happy with the status quo to join the group and make sensible recommendations on the way forward.
The strategies outlined by the Cave Hill students present a good jumpstart. They include a long-term division of the Gap into two- the North Gap, which will cater to people between the ages of 18 and 35, and the South Gap, which will provide quieter entertainment for people aged 36 and 65.
Additionally, there are calls for a St Lawrence Gap Festival in late May, a cultural street fair and a St Lawrence Spring Festival.
These suggestions are all worthy of consideration. However, we desperately hope that they won’t be relegated to the pages of another report that will attract dust as it lies unused on a bookshelf somewhere since action is needed now.
But even before new measures are considered, residents and business operators must strike a balance on the duration of activities on the entertainment stretch.
This never-ending tussle between residents and guests, who demand their right to sleep at a respectable hour while others want to party all night, must be settled or we will continue to lose on both ends.
If these issues are righted, we believe that the Gap could easily be abuzz again.
We also hasten to urge tourism authorities and business operators to engage in joint advertising to signal to visitors and locals alike that the Gap is open for business.
We now wait with anticipation for the BHTA committee to present its report on the way forward.
We hope we are not simply waiting in vain.