Adequate funding has to be made available to the soon to be created Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. if Barbados’ presence is to be felt in the marketing of its tourism product.
Shadow Minister of Tourism Santia Bradshaw raised this concern today in the House of Assembly while speaking on the Barbados Tourism Product Authority Bill, 2014 and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Bill 2014.
Noting that Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy had indicated that there would be a cut in the funds provided for marketing, Bradshaw said: “We are close to the end of our tourism season and we have not had any injection of moneys being put into the Barbados Tourism Authority for marketing. Instead we have seen the drastic cuts over the course of the past few years. Out of a US 50 million allocated by the Minister of Finance in the budget that would have been directed towards promotion and marketing for the BTA, some US $30 million was highlighted as being owed to creditors.
“We have heard nothing further from the ministers. I think the public needs to hear what are the particular plans for the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. because we cannot continue to record the declines in our tourist arrivals and now hear once again that there might be further budget cuts as it relates to the particular entity which is designed to market and promote Barbados. The other point that strikes me, is one which conflicts with the Government policy as it relates to recent pronouncements on downsizing public sector statutory corporations,” Bradshaw added.
She pointed out that it concerns her because both the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority should be in place by April 2, this year.
“I know that the Minister of Tourism had indicated that the timeline may not be met, but he did not indicate in the same breath when will be the new timeline if it is to be moved from April 2 and so I will invite him to also address that as well in his wrap up. He has indicated that the entity that the Barbados Tourism Product Authority would not have a situation where staffing would be an issue. He raised the premise that the individuals had been in discussions withe the BTA and also with the unions as it related to a transfer of their employment,” Bradshaw said.
She told Parliament that at this juncture it was Government’s policy that no new persons should be recruited for Government agencies.
However she said: “I suspect that if a new entity is established persons would want to apply to that organization who may have the requisite skill set that is needed for 2014 going forward. It will be interesting to hear how the current administration proposes to deal with those types of situations. In addition to that, persons who are already in the organization who no doubt would like to hear how their salary be impacted by the reorganization of these two authorities.
“More importantly. I think the staff of the BTA mean well for the most part, but I think the fear that comes with what the minister has said in this debate is that if the marketing budget is not of a certain amount that is required to fully perform the function, we will once again find ourselves in a situation where we continue to see record declines in our tourism figures,” the Shadow Minister said.
Expressing concern that the two new entities may be under capitalized she sought information of the budgets that will be allocated to them.
“Now Government announced that it will be examining the role and the function of a number of statutory corporations. It even went so far as to say that in some cases they were going to amalgamate some of the entities in order to avoid duplicating resources. In the Budget of 2013 the Minister of Finance indicated to the country that a preliminary assessment had already been started in relation to the statutory entities with a view to determining how to reorganize the various entities.
“We already have the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc, We are now seeking to repeal the BTA and replace it with the Barbados Tourism Product Authority and we are seeking to set up the Barbados Tourism Management Inc. This begs the question whether the timing of setting up two additional entities is necessary,” Bradshaw said.