Bank holiday opening pays off for George Washington House

The heritage attraction recently experienced record patronage by opening its doors on Boxing Day.

This was revealed by historian Dr. Karl Watson of the Barbados National Trust, operators of George Washington House.

He was speaking at a press conference this morning highlighting the Barbadian attractions and activities nominated in the USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice poll.

Barbados has been recognised in the categories of Best Caribbean Attraction (George Washington House and St. Nicholas Abbey), Best Restaurant in the Caribbean (The Cliff Restaurant), Best Caribbean Golf Course (Green Monkey at Sandy Lane) and Best Caribbean Dive Site (Carlisle Bay).

Current standings in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice poll place George Washingon House at position number three, while St Nicholas Abbey currently ranks 1st out of 20 in this category. The Cliff ranks 4th in its category and The Green Monkey golf course at  Sandy Lane is at position number 1 in its category. Carlisle Bay is currently at position number 2.

Dr. Watson noted that George Washington is usually open Monday to Friday, and is closed on weekends and bank holidays. However, he said that they decided to experiment and opened up the attraction on Boxing Day to accommodate the 10 – 12,000 cruise visitors who were on the island at that point in time.

He revealed, “Financially, we did better on that one Boxing Day than we had done for the two previous weeks combined.”

Dr Watson indicated that they adopted a more proactive approach for that special opening, with his business partner James Blades enlisting taxi drivers in the Port to direct visitors towards the historic attraction at the Garrison Savannah.

Over the Christmas holidays, there was renewed discussion on whether it was feasible for merchants in Bridgetown to open their doors to accommodate the thousands of cruise passengers coming into the island. However, several businesses indicated that the revenue earned on such days was not enough to offset the extra staff and operating costs.

Watson, however, noted that it is the attractions that can really capitalise on the high volume of cruise ship passengers, emphasising the importance of proper signage.

“Go in Bridgetown and see them [cruise visitors] walking around lost,” he said, highlighting the dire need for signage. “People need to be directed to these things.”

Fellow nominee in the Best Caribbean Attraction category, Larry Warren of St. Nicholas Abbey, told the media that a big part of that attraction’s appeal is its unique mixture of heritage and manufacturing.

“So no longer does the visitor just come there and see something ‘produced’ on a table, but they actually experience the process – whether it’s from our mango chutneys to our quality molasses, the cutting of the sugar canes, the making of the syrup, the making of the rum… it’s all displayed for them.”

Also addressing the press conference was Peter Harris of The Cliff Restaurant, who pointed to the fact that the all-round attractiveness of Barbados as a high-quality destination has helped The Cliff establish its iconic status, where people now travel to the island with the express purpose of dining there.

Similarly, Sandy Lane’s Public Relations Manager, Risha Daniel, expressed delight at being included in the USA Today’s 10Best poll, noting that the inclusion of the Tom Fazio designed golf course in such a widely circulated poll would be a boost. She noted, “You have to be staying at the resort to play on it [Green Monkey golf course], so those who are not staying at the hotel will literally book a night at our hotel just to play the course.”

Marketing Director of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), Robert Chase, said the agency is happy its efforts to position Barbados as top of mind for travellers continue to pay off.

Meanwhile, Corporate Communications Officer of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority, Renice Bostic, noted that the nominations ably demonstrate the diversity of the Barbados tourism product across culinary, cultural heritage, community and sports tourism.

Barbadians and visitors alike are urged to vote daily until January 30 to put Barbados on top.

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