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More to be done to strengthen heritage tourism, says CARICOM culture manager

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development, Dr Hilary Brown is of the opinion that the Caribbean needs to do more to strengthen its heritage tourism product.

She believes that “much more could be done” to develop the Region’s natural and built heritage which is an invaluable resource in building Heritage Tourism.

Dr Brown was delivering opening remarks to the CARICOM Heritage Experts Meeting held in Barbados to discuss regional initiatives in relation to world heritage. The one-day meeting, which opened on Monday, is first of a series of three meetings being held in Barbados, 4 – 9 April. It will be followed by the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Workshop on Matters related to the work of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO and the Second World Heritage Committee Periodic Reporting Exercise for the Caribbean sub-region, all of which include CARICOM’S participation.

Dr Brown told the Experts Meeting that the Region had gained international recognition for its many traditional and contemporary cultural expressions in areas such as music, art, craft, the literary arts, fashion, festivals and theatre, but had not made significant in-roads in developing its natural and built heritage.

According to her, “we know that the natural and built heritage of the region is equally valuable and authentic and there are many aspects that could be further developed to strengthen the region’s heritage tourism product in a sustainable way.”

However, Dr Brown made the Meeting aware that in spite of the tremendous rich tangible cultural heritage of the Region, only six CARICOM Member States had sites on the World Heritage List, which includes 911 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. The Member States with sites on the List are Belize, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, St. Lucia and Haiti. Jamaica and Barbados currently have nominations for the World Heritage List.

The CARICOM Secretariat Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development also pointed out that although some Member States were very active participants in the process leading to the adoption of several important conventions related to heritage, there were several others that were yet to become States Parties to those instruments. 

In citing an example, she pointed to the fact that while 13 of the 14 independent CARICOM Member States were Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention, only nine Member States were States Parties to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and eight Member States were Parties to the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

This, she asserted needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency, noting that those Conventions – among others – were an important part of the foundation for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage.

Against this background, she urged Member States to become Parties to those Conventions, in an effort to help develop the Region’s natural and built heritage as we move towards expanding heritage tourism for sustainable development.

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