Leaders in the crucial hotel and tourism sector will now have the ear of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart every six weeks. This was disclosed this morning by President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Patricia Affonso-Dass when she addressed the third Quarterly General Meeting of the BHTA at Hilton Barbados Resort.
Affonso-Dass told a well turned out membership that the leadership met last week with Stuart and in a frank and open discussion summarised for him the various challenges and issues being faced by the sector and BHTA members. She said they outlined to him what their members and the association had been doing to try to mitigate any additional negative impact to the society and the industry. The BHTA boss noted that some of those challenges include the launch and continued marketing support of bookbarbadosnow.
“We now have hotels, attractions and car rental services all bookable online and are working with the BTA to have it officially recognised on the visitbarbados.org website as the official booking engine for Barbados,” Affonso-Dass added. She pointed out that since May 2011, the BHTA had spent $330,000 to market the booking engine and had received $1.1 million. However, she suggested that more could be done and that hotels must offer their best rates to the site.
Another challenge identified was the re-launch of the Staycation initiative to assist all businesses in these difficult times and the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, with whom the BHTA also met, were urged to reconsider the incentive requested in the pre-Budget presentation for inducements to locals to take part in Staycation.
“Coming out of our meeting with the Prime Minister and based on the severity and range of issues highlighted, the Prime Minister has recommended that he meet with the sector on a far more regular basis — he recommended every six weeks,” disclosed Affonso-Dass.
She said the idea was for Stuart to update the association on the progress being made on the matters raised with his Government and obtain current information on the performance of the sector and what results any relief offered by Government was having on the sector.
The BHTA head said the association welcomed the offer and stood ready to facilitate further meetings as requested by him.
She appealed to members, now that they have the opportunity to sit with the Prime Minister’s ears regularly, to ensure they were truly prepared with adequate information so they could be properly represented. (EJ)