Lesson #57,922 why Bajans don’t trust The Nation Newspaper
On January 13, 2011, West Coast Blog asked Is Almond Beach Village Closing? and told of staff being laid off at the Almond Beach Village resort, and that Almond was having trouble paying staff on time. The blog described a rumour that Almond Beach Village would be shut down in the middle of the high season for renovations.
Barbados Free Press picked up on the West Coast Blog article and published our story Barbados Almond Beach Village: Two very different reports, what’s the truth? on January 21, 2011.
On that same day, January 21, 2011, Professor Robin Mahon, Director of the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), at the University of the West Indies, posted a video at YouTube proving that the Almond Beach Club sewage well was running into the sea and that Almond Beach tourists were swimming in their own sewage. This was the second video posted and is just the latest strategy in a seven-year campaign by Professor Mahon and other concerned citizens to have Almond Resorts be responsible for their sewage runoff.
On January 22, 2011 at 2am, Barbados Free Press covered Professor Mahon’s video in our story Video Proof: Almond Beach Village tourists swimming in their own sewage. The story was read by Nation staffers at least five times in the first 24 hours, as were our other Almond Beach stories.
Almond’s say… and silence
As a result of the articles posted at West Coast blog and here at Barbados Free Press, Maria Bradshaw of The Nation called up Gervase Warner, the CEO of Neal & Massy Holdings Ltd., the majority owner of Almond Resorts, and asked what’s happening.
This is good for Barbados that the regular old news media follows up on stories breaking on the blogs, and although The Nation article doesn’t credit any particular blog at least it mentions “one blog” as the reason for the reporter’s inquiries.
The comments by Mr. Warner refute some of the rumours posted on the West Coast Blog story and skilfully skirt around other issues. It makes interesting reading to compare Mr. Warner’s cautious statements with a press release a few days earlier indicating plans for a $10 million dollar renovation and new buildings at Almond Beach Village and expansion throughout the region.
The press release “Almond kicks off Barbados Growth” said…
Almond Resorts is to invest $10 million in Almond Beach Village in Barbados and is eyeing further expansion in the region.
A new kids’ club and reception area is to be added to the all-inclusive resort, while two of the restaurants and all 395 guest rooms are to be refurbished in 2011.
“It is a case of bringing the Beach Village in line with our other three resorts,” said Peter Hopwood, UK vice-president, sales and marketing.
Tourists swimming in sewage a non-story at The Nation
We don’t know if The Nation reporter Maria Bradshaw asked Mr. Warner about the sewage overflow into the swimming area. The Nation never mentioned the sewage issue in its story. For seven years Almond’s sewage has been draining onto the beach and into the Caribbean but as hard as we tried we couldn’t find any story covering the issue in the oldstream Barbados news media.
Stories of Almond Resorts sewage smells, overflows and problems abound on tourism discussion sites like Trip Advisor. There was even a lawsuit in 2007 where a couple sued Air Canada Vacations for recommending Almond Beach Village. The lawsuit makes extensive reference to smells of sewage and “raw sewage being discharged into the ocean.”
You can download the PDF of the judgment here. Almond Beach personnel Jamshed Lateef and Nigel Evason testified that they knew of the sewage problem in 2007 but hadn’t been able to find the source of the leaks and smells. They denied that “raw sewage” ran into the ocean, and stated it was “treated” and not disgorged into the ocean directly… whatever “directly” really means.
Bottom line: People have been concerned about Almond’s sewage into the sea for many years, but the Barbados news media won’t touch the story – because the news media has a stake in keeping silent to keep those BTA and hotel advertising dollars rolling in.
Meanwhile, no sea baths for me, thanks!