Investment in our heritage
I read, with some surprise, Kevin Khan’s letter in the Express of August 14, where he stated it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to spend $40 million on Mille Fleurs, and cited many reasons for his opinion. Sadly, all of his opinions are just that, opinions, totally unsupported by any facts, poorly researched and spewing a lot of negativity that seemed to indicate he cares and knows little about this country.
First of all, Mille Fleurs was built in 1904, long after slavery was abolished and all the craftsmen and artisans who worked on it were paid for their services.
Why restore this historic building and how will it be utilised? Perhaps Mr Khan should read a few books, travel guides or maybe even the newspaper once in a while, and then he would realise heritage tourism is the fastest growing branch of tourism at the moment. The attraction of sea, sun and sand never worked for obvious reasons in T&T, but the influx of visitors who are members of our diaspora returning to trace their ancestry continues to grow every year.
In fact, the City of London in England continues to earn over £15 million per annum from the tourists who visit to view their historic buildings at a time when there is a global recession.
This administration should be applauded for taking action to save Mille Fleurs from collapse, as happened to President’s House. This building needs to be restored as planned and put to adaptive re-use as a house museum with rented offices on the grounds earning income.
This grand house is part of the Magnificent Seven historic district of Trinidad and Tobago, as designated by the UNESCO-
funded Carimos (Caribbean Council of Monuments and Sites). It is internationally referred to as a “Monument of the Greater Caribbean”.
Investment in our heritage can never be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. It affords us an opportunity to preserve our sense of cultural identity, the artistic works of our forefathers and diversify our oil- and gas-based economy.
Michele D Celestine