Players in the tourism, agricultural and manufacturing sectors could soon have a memorandum of understanding (MOU), designed to help them forge closer linkages.
This comes against the backdrop of recent concerns raised by the local producers that they could be further overlooked, if hoteliers were given new concessions.
However, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy today announced in Parliament that the sector would in fact be getting the promised tax relief.
He also spoke of the MOU which is now being drafted following recent meetings, also involving the Minister of Industry and Commerce, as well as representatives of the three sectors.
It aims to see how best the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) and the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. (BTII) could work closer together going forward.
A draft of that MOU was sent to officials of each of the sectors last Thursday for review with the hope that they would meet this week and make necessary changes.
Sue Springer, executive vice-president of the BHTA, told Barbados TODAY hotels, on a continuous basis, were using majority locally produced items in their operations, adding that the MOU would ensure that this continued.
“We work with farmers and manufacturers. This fallacy that this [hotel] industry does not support local farmers and does not support local manufacturing is absolutely ludicrous,” said Springer, adding that local chefs preferred to use locally produced items as oppose
to imported ones.
She said when it came to the manufacturing sector some hotels were using local products. However, she said some manufacturers were actually not producing the items in Barbados.
“What has to happen is that we have to know who are the bonafide Barbadian manufacturers because a lot of the furniture manufacturers are bringing products in and just basically constructing them here,” she said.
The MOU will require that manufacturers provide a list of local furniture makers and what they make.
Saying it was “very easy to point a finger” at someone, Springer added that it was also the duty of those in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to approach players in the hotel industry and ask for specifications if they were falling short of the requirements.
“It is a two way strip. It is no good sitting and saying all the time you are not using the product. If I have something to sell, you think any hotelier can just sit here and say ‘I have a hotel room?’ . . . .When you are in business you have to go out to find your perspective client,” explained Springer.
Bobbi McKay, executive director of the BMA, said she welcomed the idea of a MOU, adding that “we are just really trying to ensrue it is a win-win for all parties involved”.
“It doesn’t make sense one sector is doing well to the detriment of the other. We have to make sure that all sectors are properly protected and that we get the opportunity to provide what they require,” added McKay.