This past year has witnessed increased speculation about Barbados creating a number of man-made islands off its coastline to create new areas for physical development. That is not too surprising in a small island of just 166 square miles, with an ever-growing population and serious ambitions to be globally competitive, but how realistic a prospect can that be?
Interestingly, the reverse had taken place in 1961 when Pelican Island, a natural island located close to the shoreline in the area of Fontabelle, was reclaimed into the mainland to build the deep water harbour. Similarly, when Port St. Charles was built, an area of land was excavated to create an inland lagoon.
The concept of building offshore islands to create extra land space for Barbados was first aired in the public domain in an article in the 2008 Edition of Business Barbados, written by Sir Paul Altman, under the title ‘Lessons from Singapore’. Sir Paul’s vision was essentially to extend the Bridgetown port and build one offshore island for developing high-end tourism and another smaller island to create a national park for the recreational use of the people.
The topic has resurfaced several times since then, including 2015 when construction magnate Sir Charles Williams unveiled ambitious plans to build three offshore islands at Maycock’s Bay in St Lucy. That major project never got underway but, more recently, the possibility of Barbados actually developing offshore islands has been given greater credence with the commissioning of several new feasibility studies.
The fact is, if government approval for offshore islands can be matched with the high levels of investment funding required, then the concept could indeed become a reality. Why not?