LETTER OF THE DAY - Neglecting our heritage
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I was fortunate to be in Barbados on June 13 and to be able to attend the impressive inscription ceremony marking The Garrison in Bridgetown as a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. The site is no doubt well kept, although a little sprucing up for the occasion was obviously done.
It leads me to wonder what we have done with our heritage sites. Impressive as The Garrison may be, our own Port Royal would beat it into second place, and apart from being a good place to eat a fish meal, we have done little to enhance Port Royal as a site.
In reasonable proximity we have all the old fortifications around Kingston, including Up Park Camp, Rockfort, Newcastle, Port Henderson, not to mention Spanish Town, which is worthy on its own to stand as a UNESCO site. Along with these are the harbour and the magnificent surrounding mountains.
Our neighbours Puerto Rico and Cuba have restored their heritage sites and are doing quite well in attracting visitors in large numbers and earning good money.
I recall that at Independence in 1962, Kingston, along with Port Antonio, had a cruise-ship pier. When will either Kingston or Port Royal get a cruise-ship pier again? We have to hide the tourists away from the capital city, not recognising the gold mine we are sitting on.
Jamaica cannot continue to depend on sea and sun tourists because all the Caribbean offers the same thing. Eventually, our slice of that market will get smaller if we don't develop alternatives and variety.
As a country, we need to stop playing party politics, using the poor to gain and keep power, and instead, think of the nation for a change. Developing our heritage could help to provide real jobs in the long run because had we done that since our Independence, Kingston and Port Royal, with all their potential, would have had to import labour to fill vacancies, and our standard of living would not be too far behind Barbados' and the rest of the Caribbean's, for that matter.
For the first 50 years of Independence, we crept at snail's pace in our development. We now need to start running, even if we are to achieve Vision 2030. If we don't, our vision will become a nightmare.