In the red
Harrison’s Cave losing money for the past 14 years
Barbados’ premier tourist attraction has fallen on hard times.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Irene Sandiford-Garner, reported to the Senate today that there has been a decline in visitors to Harrison’s Cave over the past 14 years and the attraction was not making money.
She made the disclosure as she introduced a resolution to compulsorily acquire land at Sturges and Welchman Hall, St Thomas for the facilitation of the Harrison’s Cave Redevelopment Project and for public access to the cave.
And Independent Senator Alwyn Adams has raised questions about how the poor financial performance of Harrison’s Cave could have been kept under wraps for so long.
“It is a surprise to me to hear that the cave is not making any money,” he said.
“That is a surprise to me because I thought that the cave was the premier and number one destination for visitors to Barbados . . . The question would have to be asked how come this state of affairs has been able to develop for so long and that it is now coming to light. It is certainly one of the best kept secrets in Barbados and we would want to ask how the workers at the cave were being paid.
“I suspect that the operation was being subsidized by Government, but I believe that that is a step in the wrong direction and that instructions should be given to persons running the cave to ensure that at least they make enough money to pay salaries and wages. I believe that since it is the premier attraction in Barbados we should be getting financial benefits from it.”
Adams further suggested that the management of Harrison’s Cave should establish a presence at the Bridgetown Port in its attempt to attract more visitors to the St Thomas facility.
Like his Senate colleague Professor Henry Fraser, Adams highlighted the failure of the cave’s management to deliver financial reports.
He said he believed the Auditor General should use his power to ensure that the reports are produced.
Pointing out that the tourism sector is the hub around which the local economy gravitates, the senator contended that financial resources should be provided for the development of the island’s tourist attractions.
Presenting a case for the decentralization of entertainment activities, Adams recommended that jazz and folk festivals be hosted at the cave to attract visitors.
In addition, he suggested that visitors should be allowed to mix with the residents of the surrounding districts in an attempt to eliminate misconceptions about the tourism industry.
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