BTA Deputy Chairman, Austin Husbands (left) and Senator Peter Gilkes
The recent shake-up and reconfiguration of the Barbados Tourism Authority has placed two men with strong Mullins/Speightstown area connections in positions to provide visibility for the tourism related challenges the area experiences, if they so choose. Those men are Austin Husbands, who retains his position as Deputy Chairman, and Senator Peter Gilkes who is one to the two new additions to the board.
Mr. Husbands currently lives in Speightstown but was raised practically on Mullins Beach itself at the house popularly referred to as “The Palace” in Road View/Bay Field. This landmark beachfront property was on the market for several years but was recently sold and is to be redeveloped shortly. It acquired the name – The Palace - during the ‘70s and ‘80s it was the venue for a catering and hospitality business. Mr. Husbands also ran a watersports business at Mullins Beach for many years. Mr. Gilkes was raised in Speightstown and comes from a family with a long history in business, fishing and tourism in the area. His late grandparents lived in Road View and at least one of his uncles had a substantial early interest in the beach bar at Mullins now owned by the Royal Westmoreland Estate.
Decimated beach in Road View with offending groins in background
As this blog has identified, the key tourism related challenges in the area continue to be beach erosion, beach access and appropriate tourism development which does not seek to displace the local population. Of course, these are concerns facing the entire island as well, but the urgency in our area has been heightened by the number and scale of developments both ongoing and planned, and the ruthlessness of the environmental and social abuse. Beaches that were once enjoyed by locals and visitors no longer exist and what little is left is under severe threat. Except something is done from the level of government to halt the threat and repair the damage already done, the whole area will be lost to tourism including the much celebrated Mullins Beach itself. This is no hyperbole – the beach pictured above is a stone’s throw from Mullins and was once packed with tourists on loungers in front of rows of coconut trees.