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Dr Kris Rampersad
Neighbouring Caribbean countries like St Kitts and Barbados are “attracting the tourist dollars,” since they have done the groundwork and prepared their national heritage infrastructure so that they have been placed on the Unesco World Heritage List. Interviewed on Friday, Dr Kris Rampersad, chair of the T&T National Commission for Unesco, said T&T should do well to emulate those countries who have done the groundwork and are reaping the economic benefits.
Rampersad said, “T&T is a signatory to several Unesco conventions and by these conventions, we commit to implementing actions that would safeguard and protect such heritage—one of which is the convention and the protection of natural and cultural heritage sites. Although it has been in place since 1972, T&T does not yet have any site on the world list.”
She said despite our high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and rich cultural resources, we do not have a site on the Unesco Heritage List. Rampersad cited examples like St Kitts and its Brimstone Hill, Barbados, Curacao and Cuba.” She felt those countries had advanced because they took the time to put in place some of the rigorous measures and standards set by the World Heritage Centre.
Those islands and cities and countries are now reaping the economic benefits of the kind of recognition and attention that countries that are on the world list get. Rampersad said occurrences like the demolition of the Mc Leod House could be pre-empted and avoided if some of those safeguarding measures are followed: “Unless we set our national house in order and take care of those properties like Mc Leod House by instituting specific safeguarding measures such as a properly constituted list of national cultural elements that are in danger or in need of safeguarding, we cannot expect to reap the benefits of being admitted on any of these international listings. We need public and private and sectors and NGOS and communities to come together for this effort.”sites can rake in tourist$$ rampersad