The Opposition Barbados Labour Party has branded the 10-point tourism recovery plan announced this afternoon by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy as disappointing, idle promises that fail to address “the state of emergency” in the country.
Shadow Minister of International Business, Commerce and Trade, Kerrie Symmonds, told a hastily-called news conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Buildings, that what the minister of tourism failed to understand, was that Barbados has an aging tourism plant, “afflicted by the fact that is has been systematically starved of resources of a developmental and marketing nature by this Democratic Labour Party Administration”.
Symmonds identified a series of “promised” initiatives by the Government since coming into office, including an Energy Bill, but yet, he added, all the country was hearing was talk and no tangible action. “We hear today, it (Energy Bill) is soon to come and will soon be finalised. This Government presided over the increase in water rates at a level of 60 per cent across the board.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that having afflicted the hospitality sector in Barbados with an increase in water and an increase in the cost of electricity, that you now come and offer this paucity of a response, in the form of a five per cent rebate for one year, seeking to undo the damage that you have inflicted on the sector over the course of the last three years,” Symmonds added.
He described as a self-fulfilling prophesy of the Democratic Labour Party that they inflict more and more hardship on the people of this country. Symmonds said it was time for the ruling DLP to put “serious and sustainable solutions” on the table and desist from knee-jerk reactions to the problems facing the vital tourist industry and the country as a whole.
The shadow minister was of the view that the $10 million proposed by Minister Sealy for retrofitting in the hospitality sector, was ludicrous when split among 85 hotels. He noted that the National Insurance Scheme, which was assisting with the funding, required a commercial rate of return from these businesses.
But he suggested that, given the state of their finances, such properties were not in a position to make that level of return.