Barbados is located in the Lesser Antilles, and is one of the world’s few sovereign island countries. Situated around 400 miles off the north east coast of Trinidad and Tobago, the island first appeared on a Spanish map in the early 1500s, and many of the native population were subjected to slavery upon their discovery by European forces. The first British ship to arrive in Barbados was the Olive Blossom in 1624, and in the name of King James I, they took possession of the island. Three years later, the first British colonists settled on the island.
Today, Barbados has a population of over 280,000 people, with nearly half living in the island’s capital city Bridgetown. In 1966, Barbados became a Commonwealth Real and an independent state, with Queen Elizabeth II remaining the head of state. The island has continuously remained one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and although it is technically classed as an Atlantic Island, it remains one of, if not the most developed island in the region.
Dependence On The UK
As the number of tourists visiting Barbados continued to rise, a plan was put in place a number of years ago to make the island one of the world’s most lavish hideaways for millionaires. From spectacular luxury hotels to beach-front mansions, the lure of tranquillity in a climate that rarely falls below 30 degrees was an instant selling point for investors, and people like Simon Cowell, Sir Philip Green and Michael Winner frequently called Barbados ‘home’.
Worryingly however, the full scale of this development dream, spearheaded by British developers, is unlikely to be entirely fulfilled in the coming years. During the height of the credit crunch last year, construction of the luxury hotels and world-class villas had to be halted, basically because the project was leaking too much money.
With thousands of labourers now left unemployed, and a large shocking proportion of the island’s infrastructure left unfinished, David Thompson, the Prime Minister, has intervened to get the project back on track.
Having attended a number of high-profile meetings all over the world, David Thompson is struggling to reassure frustrated investors that the project is in no danger of collapse. Hundreds of rich and powerful people have paid millions of dollars’ worth of deposits to reserve their luxury spot on this island, and may are starting to get the itch that they’ll never see their dream home completed.
Furthermore, will all the unfinished projects on the island, the economy is also taking a turn for the worst, with British tourist numbers slowly declining. With flights to the island from the UK departing half full, and local restaurants closing left, right and centre due to the lack of business, Thompson is facing an uphill battle to get investors onside.
Although construction work continues on the island, it’s nowhere near levels capable of finishing the project. As scaffolding stands rusting in the morning due, and a landscape of unfinished roofs litters the coast, there’s no doubt that the declining numbers of British tourists is causing a major effect on the island’s economy, and reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious destinations.
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Photo credits: en.wikipedia.org