The Opposition this evening revealed what it said were some of the key issues facing small hotels in the island, including utility costs, funding and inability to upgrade their plants.
Shadow Minister of Tourism, Santia Bradshaw, said it was a situation that should concern not just the Labour Party, but Government and all of Barbados as well.
Bradshaw reported at Pirates Inn, Brownes Gap, Hastings, after a tour of several small hotels that listening to a number of the hotels today, it was obvious that the country was in a position of needing to resuscitate the industry.
“A number of the small hotels … have expressed to us that they are struggling with their businesses, they are struggling to make ends meet as it relates to keeping staff employed, and I must say that they are doing a tremendous job of trying to keep the staff employed because they understand the repercussions that will bestow the country if they continue to lay off persons in the industry,” she said.
High electricity cost was another area they identified as a challenge, said the tourism shadow minister, adding that with the downturn of about seven per cent in arrivals from last year, the hotels were trying to figure out how to make ends meet financially.
“With all of the burdens that they are facing, obviously a number of them are contemplating what will happen next, what will happen for the summer period, the winter period and without being given a clear picture from the Barbados Government, in particular from the BTA as to how it intends to turn around the economy… they are certainly uncertain about what the future holds for the tourism industry.”
She added: “In speaking to a number of them, they are facing difficulties with obtaining financing to refurbish the hotels. We talk a lot about the plant and trying to be more competitive with the rest of the Caribbean, a lot of them are finding difficulties being able to approach banking institutions, being able to obtain financing and in a lot of cases the plants are over 40/50 years old.
“We are finding as we go through that there are some hoteliers who have been able to hold their own. There are some that even though they are holding their own, they are still facing the high costs, the fixed costs that they are dealing with; but in a lot of cases you have the smaller hotels that don’t have the level of occupancy that they would have had before and also are grappling with the issues of high costs.
“I think it is something that concerns the Labour Party, it certainly concerns me as shadow minister and I think it should concern the Barbados Government. If we don’t have the people coming to this country in the numbers we are accustomed to, it has implications for all sectors of the economy,” Bradshaw said. (LB)