Though sympathizing with players in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, Renee Coppin, chairperson of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados Group, says she will not be backing down in her plea for concessions for small hotels.
The announcement earlier this month that government would be granting local hoteliers tax relief has not gone down well with officials in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. They argued that hoteliers would start importing more and further ignore local producers.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Coppin, who is the general manager of Infinity on the Beach hotel (old Escape at the Gap hotel), described the situation as “very unfortunate”, but said hoteliers needed the concessions in order to remain competitive.
“In terms of our lobby, the hotels, and I feel passionate about it, have to lobby to get concessions because the reality is we are a locally-based export business,” said Coppin.
Adding that the small hotels were not guilty of bypassing local produce, Coppin suggested that the bigger hotels should work closer with the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
“I can understand manufacturing and agriculture feeling that that puts them at a disadvantage because obviously once we have these concessions many of our colleagues may go out and look to import and bypass the local sector but I think that there are ways that we can work around that,” she said.
“I can’t say I have all them in my head but I know that there are ways we can find to partner better between the various sectors. I think philosophically most Barbadian hoteliers want to support local businesses in agriculture and manufacture. We just have to figure out how best to do that,” added Coppin.
The Intimate Hotels of Barbados group represents about 52 of the island’s small hotel properties or about 15 per cent of the total hotel room stock, employing more than 550 people.
“When [people] choose you, you need to have a set of things that ensures that you can deliver a service that they will want to not just come but come again . . . So I think it is important for us to have concessions to make us more competitive,” she said, adding that local hoteliers were competing with the entire world.
Coppin said while small hotel operators were not begging for handouts she believed the island should be better marketed at the national organization level as each property did its bit.
“With the Internet it has become a lot easier and we have found innovative ways within Intimate Hotels to use web-based marketing to try and promote our properties,” she said.
“But there is always going to be a necessity because we pay taxes and a lot of it . . . I am not of this mindset that we are begging for anything.
Our tax dollars pay for the marketing. So I would like to see that we are getting the benefit of having a fully functioning, well-run marketing association that markets Barbados as a whole and then we can all benefit from that,” said Coppin.