Hoteliers in Barbados have taken on Minister of Industry and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss for suggesting they’re beggars.
The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association is taking issue with remarks Inniss is reported to have made in an article carried in Barbados TODAY on Monday entitled: Hotels told stop begging – Inniss urges sector to be more innovative and stop waiting on handouts.
“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. Stop begging for handouts and asking for all sorts of concessions and start doing more to help local industry,” Inniss was quoted as saying.
But in a statement today, the BHTA asked the minister how he, or anyone for that matter, could say that hoteliers were begging for handouts for all sorts of concessions, “when these same concessions have been afforded to only one player in the industry”.
“How is it,” the association queried, “that we are begging, but Sandals Resorts International, the leading brand owner in the Caribbean, were freely granted theses concessions by the Government and they are not seen as beggars as well?”
The hoteliers questioned the government minister, too, as to why only they were being seen as beggars, some of whom have worked over the past 60 years to lay the foundation for the tourism industry and to grow it to where it presently is.
The BHTA wants to know why the Freundel Stuart Administration continues to paint a negative image of hoteliers and continue to “malign” the operators who face increasing taxes and input costs on what is an export industry, particularly, when, “by its own admission, [it] sees tourism as the sector to drive the economy and take Barbados out the the current economic morass.”
The industry players also took offence to Inniss’ reported statement that he had visited “quite a few restaurants over the years and was amazed that he was not able to get [many] local food items well prepared and presented”. “The BHTA also takes offence to such statements, since many of our local chefs are professionals and take pride in showcasing local cuisine in the many dining establishments at which they are employed across the island,” the hotels umbrella body asserted.
“These chefs also prefer local foods, rather than the imported, as they lead to tastier dishes and result in less wastage due to spoilage. The biggest challenge we have as an industry, is quality, quantity, consistency and supply source,” it added.
However, the hoteliers made it clear that they have been working with their partners over many years, in order to strengthen the agro-tourism linkages, resulting in lots of success stories.
At the same time, the BHTA said it fully supports Minister Inniss’ reported call for farmers to step up their game and start producing higher quality produce and greater yields.
“This is what the BHTA has been calling for over the past 15 years and has tried to work with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and now, most recently, with the Inter- American Development Bank through the Multilateral Investment Fund, with a project to increase linkages with SMEs and tourism, with special reference to agriculture and agro-processing.