BHTA seeking to get on top of seaweed problem
Gravely concerned about the threat of the Sargassum seaweed to the island’s tourism product, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has pledged to work “tirelessly to find a solution”.
BHTA Chief Executive Officer Sue Springer said the seaweed, which has developed into a major problem on the beaches and was affecting visitors and locals alike, was now at the top of the association’s agenda.
She also said the association was seeking help from regional industry partners.
“Our hotels on the south and east coasts are doing all they can to battle this issue by way of beach cleanups, where they rent equipment and employ additional workers in that area. Some have also found uses for the seaweed in their gardens, nurseries and golf courses and one property is looking into the possibility of using a boom to prevent it from reaching the shore,” said Springer in a release today.
“The association has also been in discussions with private and public sector agencies, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), and the National Conservation Commission (NCC), to try to find a solution,” she said.
Applauding the NCC for its efforts to date, Springer said the BHTA had also received a number of proposed solutions.
“However, most of these call for the importation of extremely expensive equipment and would require national support from both the private and public sectors,” said Springer.
“This is not an individual’s challenge or a Government’s challenge. It is not a hotel’s challenge or the tourism sector’s challenge. This is a national challenge,” Springer added.
She said while the BHTA stood ready to help wherever possible, there was a need for a national discussion and formulation of a plan.
“Firstly, we need to come up with a way to deal with the beaches already covered by the seaweed, then identify the source of the seaweed and how it can be eliminated,” said Springer.
The CEO said if there was no way to solve the problem permanently, the next step would be to find a solution to prevent the seaweed from encroaching onto the beaches and also ways of turning this “enemy” into a “friend” by finding uses for it.
“The Sargassum seaweed is not only affecting Barbados and, to this end, we have also engaged our Caribbean partners, including the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), requesting both entities to raise this issue at the regional level,” she said.
“The CHTA is already preparing a research paper which should be available next week with some possible solutions, while the Caribbean Association of Sustainable Tourism is investigating solutions internationally,” informed Springer.