Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Empty nest


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Yesterday was a quiet day in Pelican Village.
But, it was like any other day in recent years.
Around midday, when a WEEKEND NATION team passed through, no tourist was in sight. A few locals trickled through.
Most business operators said as a result of people not visiting the craft village, they were not receiving favourable sales.
All agreed that there was a need for the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) to do more to market the village, once a key tourist attraction.
Craftswoman Gloria Gaskin of Ann’s Craft Shop described the village as a hole just waiting to be covered.
“I never see Pelican Village like this yet until now. There is a need for people who interested in the craft to bring back this village. I am telling you what my customers telling me,” she said.
She said that while there was no “real traffic in the village”, she relied heavily on the international market and media to promote her award-winning weaved baskets and hats, among other products.
“The newspapers and magazines overseas does come and write me up and people overseas see my products. If not I dead. And my customers who come from overseas and shop send people here to me when they come to Barbados,” the shop owner said.
“BIDC have to let people know that Pelican Village is still in existence”, the entrepreneur in her 60s stated.
“A lot of tourists don’t know that Pelican Village here and that is the problem. You would believe a cruise ship in today? No tourist ain’t in here. They have to let the people know that they can come here and buy.”
Azizah Onifa of Azipho’s Creations cried out that the village “really need help, it needs help”. The jeweller echoed Gaskin’s belief that there was a need for solid marketing strategies to attract people to the area.
Onifa said that her clientele were mostly locals.
“But they have to advertise Pelican Village on the ships to get the tourists in here,” she added.
“Another thing to watch too is that the walk from the [Bridgetown] port is a straight walk down on the other side of the road and people don’t want to cross over from that side. They don’t even have proper signage to show that you are approaching craft shops and they are on the way to Bridgetown,” she said.
Sitting on the porch of his shop, potter Wendell “Super” Weatherhead said: “In here dead right now but things should pick up when the cruise ships come in. I am waiting to see what plans the Government got for in here.”
The owner of The Pottery Palace said coping with slow traffic in the village was challenging.
“It only get really bad since the locals stop buying.”
Things were not “too bad” for Lynette Murray at Pelican Café and Variety Shop. She believes that her addition of food and drinks to her clothing line, attracts mostly locals.
“Some days it is alright and some days it is very quiet. And it would be very quiet especially for people selling souvenirs. There is a ship in today and I haven’t seen a tourist in here. I am hoping the season is going to be better,” she said.
That is also the hope of the shop operators.
Their expectations have been raised by a forecast from executive director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Sue Springer.
At the association’s third quarterly general meeting earlier this month, Springer said the BHTA was already seeing improvements with an increase in the number of cruise ships scheduled to berth at the Bridgetown Port over the coming months.


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