Ethical Traveler drops Barbados from list: “lacks genuine environmental will”

UPDATED: Ethical Traveler releases 2012 list

January 7, 2012

The Winners

Ethical Traveler congratulates the countries on our 2012 list of The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations. The winners, in alphabetical order (not in order of merit), are:

Argentina *
The Bahamas
Chile *
Costa Rica *
Dominica *
Latvia *
Palau *
Uruguay *
( * = also appeared on our 2011 list).

Full report at The World’s Best Ethical Destinations – 2012

Barbados “failed to implement” promised Environmental laws

Ethical Traveler tells potential Barbados visitors to spend their travel dollars elsewhere

We hate to have to say it, but we knew a year ago that this would happen when we said:

“You can only keep up appearances for so long before people demand performance. Let’s see what happens next year when Ethical Traveler and their parent organisation Earth Island Institute come looking for environmental legislation, saving the Graeme Hall RAMSAR wetlands, mandatory recycling and policies and laws that favour public transit instead of more and more autos.”

BFP in our December 11, 2010 post Environmentalists puzzled as Barbados added to Ethical Traveler’s Best 10 List

When Ethical Traveler included Barbados in its “Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations” list for 2011, Bajan environmental activists were left scratching their heads about how a country could do so little and still be included in one of the world’s most prestigious travel awards.

Environment Minister Denis Lowe: a do-nothing

BFP and others questioned how the Barbados government could win this award as it dumped sewerage into the Graeme Hall RAMSAR wetlands, failed to enact environmental legislation and removed protection from sensitive environmental lands so they could be developed.

Ethical Traveler replied to concerns at the time, saying that Barbados must act on Environmental promises in 2011 or lose the recommendation.

Here we are a year later, and Ethical Traveler just dropped Barbados from its list and loudly told the world why it did so…

“Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of all the nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the best job of promoting human rights, preserving their environment, and creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these destinations, we use our economic power – our travel dollars – to support these countries.

We urge you to explore these ethical destinations, and enjoy the wonderful sights, cultures and activities they offer.

“Barbados was included in last year’s list, when we applauded its efforts to organize the Caribbean Green Economic Conference. A year later, however, we conclude that Barbados lacks genuine environmental will; the government has failed to implement its own ambitious laws. We will review Barbados again next year to see if they have moved forward with its environmental agenda.”

… from the January 5, 2012 Ethical Traveler article: The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations: 2012


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment

21 responses to “Ethical Traveler drops Barbados from list: “lacks genuine environmental will”

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    It’s a very damming indictment and for some reason those of us in working in the industry have not been able to persuade Government (any) of the direct link between sustainable tourism, arrival numbers and average spend.

    Simple things like restoring and maintaining coastal paths, repairing the bridge over Joe’s River, cleaning up the mess at Holborn to enable a new state-of-the-art conference centre to be built. ‘We’ even consider ploughing another $50 million (after $60 million) into Four Seasons but the same money could pay for the new Conference Centre and enable us to become the meeting capital of the Caribbean.

    Which do you think would bring a better return on investment?

    Basic fundamental issues are NOT addressed why the Minister is chasing around the world to Copenhagen, the Arctic Circle and Durban.

  2. No way Jose!

    A shame. I remember the government crowing about the award last year and the newspapers featured the award in a big story.

    Hype, hype and more hype is all we’ve lived on for years. Look like some of dat old reality is striking.

  3. Name

    Well done, Barbados! Congrats!!

  4. Dusty

    Never heard of this publication where does Bfp find this irrelevant crap.

  5. Anonymous

    Hey Dusty, you bias is showing. Ya’ think the print media (and CBC) will give as much exposure to this report as they do when a Minister PROMISES to start some dreamworld project in the far distant future? I think not. Anyway, you can hide your bias by sharing your opinion about the willful destruction of Graeme Hall Sanctuary, condoned by Government..

  6. Name

    yes Dusty, you’re right.
    The Environment is irrelevant (obviously).
    Barbados Gov’t. –and Bajans!– treat it with scant respect.
    Dah iz a white-ppl concern, you know?
    Dah doan apply to we down here. We wud always get we enviruhment, you know?
    Even as it’s allowed to go downhill, daily. Check the Vaucluse Road going towards the dump
    but then…nuh tourisses doan nuse dah road -only when dum lost and trying to find Welchman Hall or Harrson Cave

  7. Wiser

    Yes “Dusty” …just your name says all!!
    Barbados is receiving slaps on slaps because the foolish policy of previous years, wearing a mask of perfection and pretending all the time that everything was “great” , “we destination is the best” and assuming (gosh!) that tourist always would come on this island, whatever happens. The problem, huge problem is that mentality was/is NOT just the beach bam one, but is the mentality that many at high level have: pure ignorance at the top! Now Barbados is in serious trouble, losing the middle class tourists which are the ones that spend money and keep the economy going. Bim is an expensive destination and service stinks, this is the main reason why visitors don’t come back here. This island was supposed to start a serious program of reform of service system and improvement, inculcating the concept to people that bad service means failure and poverty. But no much have been done in this direction and now the results are coming heavily. To find good service in Barbados you have to go on the Platinum Coast in selected places..yes where millionaires are going, spending money in all imported items and not helping much the local industry, big deal….
    So Bim failed with enviromental laws, Bim failed with the tourism policies.

  8. Distant Voice

    here we go again. After Donville threatened to fine offenders, we still have Caribbee and Sierra in Hastings, both in full view of the public, festering and producing rats, mosquitos and harbouring vagrants who teif the public.

    What about the disgusting car park where Pebbles used to be. Prime real estate, probably worth 500 to 1000 Bds per sq. ft., just muddy pot holes.

    I have been interacting with visitors very frequently these days and many have told me they will not return because Barbados is increasingly disgusting to look at and negotiate.

    Recently, MTW cleaned the drains in Hastings, hooray!!, but they left many broken drain covers and holes everywhere. It is now physically impossible to walk any distance without having to jump over a hole or walk in the road. In fact I will not put my foot on any cover in case it collapses. I see visitors every day having to deal with this problem.

    Tourism product is in a bad way and our Government doesn’t seem to care.

  9. Caribbee is a DISGRACE!

    The ruin of CARIBBEE Hotel is a disgrace to the South Coast generally
    and to the hundreds of people who pass it daily, up and down the otherwise-pleasant boardwalk.

    Its swimming pool is a festering bog! <<===== Attn: Min. of Health!
    Suggestion: have NCC fill it in with excess sand buildup from nearby boardwalk!

    This derelict bldg. should be CONDEMNED by Min. of Health
    (if anyone can find the guts to do that!)
    and demolished, fwd-ing the demolition bill to the Estate of Halout (now deceased).

    That entire property — i.e. Caribbee plus ex-Ocean View
    should be turned into a small triangular seaside park of sorts
    adjoining the boardwalk, and left wide open as a (rare!) window-to-the-sea
    for those travelling the South coast main road.

    No-one is going to buy the dreadful Caribbee eyesore
    so let’s cut our losses and demolish it a.s.a.p.

  10. Karl Watson

    One may generalize broadly and say that most Barbadians do not appreciate/understand the complexities of environmental issues….and @Name…I disagree with you strongly, your statement is a stereotyped view…..I know many black Barbadians who are informed and prepared to take positive/remedial action with respect to the environment and on the other side of the coin, I know many white Barbadians who by their actions demonstrate a callous disregard for the environment.

    A generally shared view very prevalent in Barbados is that the environment is there solely for the benefit of humans, so it doesn’t matter if it is a project that involves carving out huge portions of land, filling in coral reefs for has happened else where in the Caribbean, overfishing both on reefs (sea eggs,conch) or on the open seas, spraying dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals in large quantities because we think more is better…seeing trees as obstacles..serving no purpose and better cut down than left standing, using wildlife for entertainment purposes…either for pets or for hunting….On and on I could go, the examples are many and all equally horrendous.

    Yet there are a few examples which show that our conscience is not entirely bereft of reason/compassion. Our protection of marine turtles, from government level on through to the general public has been a great success, except for the occasional idiot who slaughters nesting turtles. Some tourist developments have pursued environmentally sound policies resulting in Green/Audubon certification. Graeme Hall continues to act as a sanctuary without the public interfacing except in the cafe area. Woodbourne Shorebird Reserve plays a very important role in the protection of migratory and resident birds, despite the fact that Barbados is not a signatory to the Migratory Birds Act (an international treaty which protects migratory birds which are now increasingly vulnerable).

    It even seems to me that increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the importance of trees. This is what is needed to drive government policy…not apathy but effective public pressure. People from all walks of life have to speak up for the environment. Climate change is real, is on going and the world our children and grandchildren will inherit will be a different world to the one we know today. Anything we can do to slow/ameliorate the process is welcome.

    What is needed is continuous education and persuasion with legal teeth, an iron fist in a velvet glove.

  11. passing thru

    You’re right Watson my Trinidadian house guest told me at xmas she’s not travelled anywhere where people plant as many trees as Bdos. She referenced the ABC Highway and tall thick beautiful casuarina trees on the Brandons stretch of Spring Garden. Kudos to Government for the tree planting more should be done.

  12. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    This is down-right disgusting. These international recognized rating bodies are fundamental to the flow of tourism too our tiny island because their written assertions, rather positive or negative, can influence the movement of people to or from our shores. To have the ‘reviewers’ slight Barbados with such a tone does not augur well for the islands environmental initiatives. The government of Barbados, past and present, seem not to care about the environment, unless there is direct threat or calamity that engages their attention.

    I will not speak negatively about Barbadians because most Barbadians like to have fruit trees around them or plants. I believe if the average Barbadian had a bit more disposablel income there would be a tremendous transformation of domestic landscapes throughout this island. Unfortunately, many in Barbados do not possess that sort of wealth to create and maintain more green spaces, hence the shabbiness and often slum like appearances of many of our urban and rural villages.

    The government needs a spending programme targetted specifically at maintenance of the environment and not the construction of more concrete buildings. Its pathetic what we waste money on and what we think are the more important endeavours. For example why is the government not looking at the fishing industry more closely since it has reap success with its Oistins Baygarden fish fry, which had its origin from the Oistins Fish Market, was the only sector according to reports that showed significant economic growth. There is tremendous potential in an Oistins redevelopment plan that must encompass the fish market and its surrounding environs as a place of interest if not a sight for heritage tourism. I believe a plan like this could reap great rewards if the imagination is allowed to run rampant. But I guess this not something important to the government.

  13. Listen up...

    Oistins Friday night Fish Fry is BIG in the minds of tourisses.
    It’s almost as big as Turtles, Monkeys and Harrison’s Cave, hear what I tell you?
    – it’s the real local thing and they like it.

    PAINT applied here and there to keep things looking fresh wouldn’t hurt!
    Cleaning up and freshening up all helps the IMAGE we like to present.
    Paint is not that expensive any more, and one coat every six months can’t hurt.
    The Oistins Fish Fry area to the East of the fish market itself, should be kept sparkling as much as we can accomplish that.
    Individual vendors SHOULD do it themselves, but socialism dictates dat de guvment gotta do it fuh we, even though we rakin in real-nuff dollars frum de whole thing.
    Is so we stan’

  14. Wily Coyote

    @ Karl

    “What is needed is continuous education and persuasion with legal teeth, an iron fist in a velvet glove.”

    Unfortunately Karl the RULE is: Barbados has a RULE for everything, but enforcement of NOTHING. Environment is not yet on Barbados radar, you have to deal with the fundamentals first, Building Code, Electrical Code, Plumbing Code to name a few and then make them environmentally friendly. Barbados is a JOKE on the world stage and its a shame, going to hell in a worn out old head basket.

  15. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Listen Up

    We are talking major redevelopment for Oistins that encompasses the marine envrionment not a spruce up with applied paint. It does not need cosmetics it needs real architectural work that intertwines the marine environment with its land-base structures. The theme for Oistins should be synonomous with its indigenous fishing community for which the area is well known. Yet successive governments think that what is there is all that Oistins need when the full potential of the Oistins Baygarden, the fish market and surrounding environs, has not yet been fully attained. Oistins is far bigger than just a friday night night spot. The entire area is a gold mind if the right thinking government get its act right and invest the millions for returns in a project that has far-reaching profit benefits. What paint what. Take your head out of the box and think far beyond the 166 sq ml space.

  16. Anonymous

    Yes all very well and good with big plans for complete redevelopment in a few years -if and when the money ever comes thru?!

    Typical bajan Big Thinking: can’t pay attention to the small details that tourists see in the interim!

    IN THE MEANTIME…five hundred dollars worth of paint could MAINTAIN the present infrastructure
    UNTIL your Big Move comes thru (if it ever does, in this ketch-ass economy)

    See what I’m talking about? the mashup en Buy Back mentality!
    Do zero maintenance of current infrastructure.
    Wait til infrastructure is in a state of total decay, and then rebuild it
    only to let THAT rebuild decay slowly and unsightly, until its next replacement.

    I’m wasting my time, I know. Press on with current plans.
    Leave Oistins looking progressively uglier and un-painted.
    Bajans doan see ugly, even if tourists do.
    What tourists see is of no consequence to Bajans.
    It’s only “their perception” ..not the reality, you know?

    Heck, it’s not like we’re in the tourism business or nuthin… lol
    Barbados is looking like a DUMP in too many places.
    Wunnuh too CHEAP to paint wunnuh houses.
    For God’s sake have some national pride in our appearance, at least
    above and beyond our fallacious national motto

  17. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Typical bajan Big Thinking: can’t pay attention to the small details that tourists see in the interim!

    Where the heck you get that from. Where in this small island do you see signs of typical bajan big thinking manifested in meaningful projects that brings significant returns on our investment. Is it the Central building (we definitely needed that); is it the new supreme court (We definitely needed that); is it in a new Prime Ministers offices ( we certainly do not need that we got one already – MAINTAIN IT). Is it in a new hospital (we definitely need that we let the old one run to rot). Big thinking for me is if we should seek to create more industry for the manufacturing purposes and trade. Something of our own for which we can earn foreign exchange instead of depending of tourism all the time. Now we get to Oistins.

    We are dealing with a product in Oistins that has only skim the service of what that piece of sea side real estate can really acheive. We are suffering for tourist dollars; we have cruise line tourism about to suffer a major blow with the pulling of one or two cruise ships. We have a gigantic import bill and our inflation is not attractive to tourist spending. We have one area of interest that is a ” big shout” across the mouths of tourist and locals alike and all you can talk about is spruce it up with a few drops of paints? This is the only place were we see racial integration best displayed. The tourist spends alot of money in food and I believe craft in Oistins. Are we just gonna let it continue in the same vain before we other more diversity to what Oistins can really do and acheive.

    You know fully well that successive governments are all for building but not for maintaining. Whose fault is that? There spent an ‘army’ of money on pelican village and has it justify the means by which it was conceived? It is no secret that government allows its building infrastructures to0 run to ruin hence the reasons for so many sick government buildings. Again whose fault is that? You know the approach of government is always reactionary and responsive to the circumstances arising when they do from time to time. The Oistins area is one area that can generate significant revenue returns and deserves a planning initiative that would make the south the new development to come and see. I prefer money spent on that than money spent on a Greenland, the crazy designs of our roads, Gems project and a few more other dumb ass projects that just house this and that but brings no returns back on the investment. Oistins looks nice at night but during the day is an ugly piece of ”rush to put in place” architectural crap. Who do you know but toilets in the middle of a food outlet so close to where people are grilling and cooking. LET US GO AND PUT SOME PAINT ON THE STRONG PISS SCENT COMING FROM THERE and tell me if that applied cosmetic will solve the problem.

    That’s the problem with you people. You are critical of redevelopment

  18. Winkler

    I believe that all commenters here have something valid to say, but that there must be a balance. The mash up / buy back way of “management” must stop.

    We need the big vision, long term planning and implementation of upgrades and new tourist attractions: but we have to pick up the trash and freshen up and maintain what we have too!

    This island has become the world’s largest garbage heap in the last ten years. The traffic is so bad that Bridgetown is more reminiscent of a decaying US urban center than the capital city of one of the world’s premier Caribbean tourist destinations.

    Many visitors are giving up on Barbados when ten years ago they wouldn’t go anywhere else. Things have gone so badly wrong in the past 15 years of mismanagement that we are in serious trouble and it is long term trouble that in some ways has little to do with the world economic situation. Our tourism product is a shadow of what it once was. When St. Lucia’s new airport opens you can count on losing at least 10% of our overall air traffic. I’ve seen the reports and it is going to be a slaughter for Barbados tourism.

  19. Voracious reader

    Winkler the rubbish you posted is summed up by your assertion St. Lucia is openning a new airport. Is this the st. Lucia reeling from Hurricane Tomas damage that wiped out half their GDP? A better guess from your uninformed self would be St. Vincent where Ralph Gonzalves days ago returned with his begging bowl from Turkey. Gonzalves often makes begging runs to pariah countries eg Iran, Venezuela, Gadaffy’s Libya for money to build an international airport in SvG. The only slaughter taking place will be the unsustainable debt to poor Vincentians their nut case PM racks up.

  20. Anonymous

    The acrimonious discourse here is symptomatic of the now-undeniable decay we find ourselves in.
    As one commentator says, the downhill trend over the last ten to fifteen yrs. (BLP & DLP Admins!) is now bearing bitter fruit
    -at a time when we have zero bucks to fix anything!

    ReDeveopment costs Money with a Capital M
    -at a time when we can’t even afford simple paint to make things SEEEM like we care
    when in fact our national apathy has now got the best of us.
    We are in deep doodoo. Press on.

  21. Collapsable Portable Johnny

    Speaking of deep doodoo, half of the suckwells lead to water wells. Isn’t it time that every home on the island had piped in potable water? Christ! How much money have we wasted on all manner of extraneous “investments” and we still don’t have clean drinkable water going to every home. ?

    All that money wasted on all manner of things, but still we have homes without running water. 😦