The Barbados Labour Party’s Shadow Minister on Tourism, Santia Bradshaw, says her party is not trying to scare Barbadians, but the island is facing a serious and very dire situation.
She, along with Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and other BLP members toured Mullins Beach in St. Peter today as part of a continued exercise to learn about the issues affecting Barbadians, particularly those in the tourism sector. Bradshaw said the concerns of Barbadians were real, and pleaded with the Government to, if it really cares about what was happening to this country and the direction it is going in, listen to what people are saying on the ground.
“There is no relief coming, there is no consultation taking place with any of the people we have spoken to throughout the course of this exercise, explaining to them what direction Barbados is going, what are the plans to resuscitate the industry and certainly what is the vision for the Barbados economy,” she stressed.
“Most of these people are impacted by high electricity rates, impacted by high water rates… VAT as well is also affecting their ability to sustain themselves and families. So in a very depressed climate we have a situation where there are very few tourists coming in and they still have to grapple with the day to day expenses of daily living.”
Bradshaw continued: “Our partners in the rest of the Caribbean are all exceeding their expectations as far as the sector is concerned, but Barbados is unfortunately lagging behind. It is clear from the people who prop up this sector that there is no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of where we are going as a destination.
“You would have heard the Leader of the Opposition speak yesterday about the … million tourists we are projecting to have come to Barbados to support this industry; it is not an unrealistic expectation. At the end of the day we believe in the sector…, we understand that this is the life bread of the Barbados economy.
“It not only supports the large hotels but the small hotels, the vendors on the beach, the tour operators, the people who are doing the wire bending, every single aspect of our sustenance in this country is propped up by the tourism industry and as such we would expect the Barbados Government would pay more urgent attention to the section.
“When you hear the statistics — they are just statistics — but they come to life when we actually go and talk to the people and we hear the real stories,” said Bradshaw.
The first-term parliamentarian further urged the Freundal Stuart Administration to actualise an urgent plan which would bring about change in the tourism industry. She stated that the Government had promised a “tourism master plan” in December but emphasised the after hearing the stories of persons across the country “we can no longer wait until December for a master plan”.
“We already have the tourism white paper, a lot of the information in that document are things that would have been left there from a Barbados Labour Party administration. We know what it is that is needed to resuscitate the sector and make Barbados more competitive.
“And whilst the paper would have been brought before Parliament just before the elections we are now three months after the election and we are still in a position [where] we do not have a plan … to bring about change in the tourism industry,” she said.
“We are a vulnerable Caribbean island, we are susceptible to the hurricanes and beach erosion and these are things that we need to be talking about as a country. These are things that we have to be preparing for because we well know people come here… not just for sea and sand.
“So we must ensure the attractions are of a particular standard as well as our hotels, both small and large, and we have to ensure that the people who continue to make a living — want to make a living — in this sector are able to do so.”
The politicians also visited Dover Beach in Christ Church, Peeble’s Beach, St. Michael and the beach in Holetown, St. James. (KC)