Stop begging for handouts and start being more innovative, and use more local produce.
Minister of Industry and Business Development Donville Inniss issued this piece of advice to operators within the hotel sector this morning as he delivered the feature address during the opening of the Sunbury Harvest Agro-Processing Plant.
Players within the hotel sector, over the past few weeks, have raised concerns regarding a number of food and beverage concessions offered to the Sandals Group by the Government, saying that they too should be given such concessions.
Speaking to a small gathering at the St Philip location this morning, Inniss said: “In terms of our hotel sector, let me be candid about this.
“Stop begging for handouts and asking for all sorts of concessions and start doing more to help local industry,” said Inniss.
Adding that he had visited “quite a few restaurants” over the years, Inniss said he was “amazed” he was not able to get [many] local food items “well prepared and presented”.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist . . . . We have to ask ourselves what makes us different from others [and] what makes us unique, and part of it is the food we produce and the way in which that food can be prepared for consumption,” added Inniss.
He said Barbadians were “too happy” to have imported products, and that “has to change”.
“We have the Hospitality Institute and others who are training our chefs in this country and we need to ensure that they too are continuously preparing our locally produced food in such a manner that is appealing to the public. I am sure we can do this,” said Inniss.
“I would like every hotel and restaurants in this country to make a commitment, starting now, to make sure they give priority to purchasing local food items as opposed to just importing,” he said.
The minister noted, however, that it meant that farmers too should step up their game and start producing higher quality produce and greater yields.
The outspoken Government minister also used the opportunity to renew his call for a greater level of prominence to be given to locally produced items on supermarket shelves across the island.
Inniss unapologetically stated that “the supermarkets in Barbados need to stop playing the fool and frankly start displaying Barbados product prominently. There is a stronger linkage between the ownership of some of these facilities and where the goods that are more prominently displayed are coming from”.
He said: “I am not saying stop anything from coming from Trinidad or Jamaica or wherever. Barbadians must have choices, but if you have a local product that is of good quality [and competitive] price, why must that product be buried in the back of a supermarket shelf?” (MM)