Barbados’ Crop-Over Concerns: Cultural Event or Tourism Product?

As Barbados’ Crop-Over events draw closer (July) people are speculating about the changes in the nature and purpose of the festivities. Some argue that the annual festival has moved away from its original meaning and that, by adopting the Carnival style celebrated in other countries, does not accurately reflect the history of Barbados. Some have expressed dismay at the “increased emphasis on bacchanalia” and less attention to the historical background of life on the sugar plantations. They fear that Crop Over “will become part of the near-homogenous group of carnivals that now dot the Caribbean event calendar,” that it has lost its cultural authenticity, and is that it has become a commercial activity aimed at drawing tourists to the island.

An article in The Barbados Advocate advises striking a balance: “There is nothing wrong with using our heritage and customs to enhance the tourism product; but by no means should we use the tourism product as an excuse to compromise our traditions either. That route leads to a dead end, as both the culture and tourism products are cheapened.” While not condemning the use of Crop-Over for reviving tourism, the article stresses that the island must emphasize its uniqueness (relying on traditions and consciousness of a historical trajectory) and “not blend into the background as just another tropical island.” Crop-Over, the island’s major cultural and tourist attraction is slowly losing its individuality, which has always been its strength.

The article also emphasizes that local tourism officials have realized that “we can no longer rely on our sand, sea and sun to bring tourists in droves” and have focused on other types of tourism, such as sports tourism or ecotourism to differentiate Barbados from other destinations. Ecotourism, the author says, could benefit from greater attention.

Although Crop-Over has evolved greatly from its original format, the article believes that efforts to ensure the cultural integrity of the festival will be beneficial on many levels. Therefore, these time-honored festivities, as well as many other areas of traditional Barbadian life, could benefit from a well-articulated strategy to protect them and to ensure their preservation.

For full article, see

For photo and more information, see

2 thoughts on “Barbados’ Crop-Over Concerns: Cultural Event or Tourism Product?

  1. I found this fascinating. As West Indians, we should be very proud of our cultural heritage. However, we also need to be aware of what tourism brings to the region.

    It is a difficult balance to find, but I would always err on the side of our culture if pushed.

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