The pleas of local hoteliers have been answered.
Chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI), Stuart Layne, today confirmed that within a matter of weeks the sector would be getting concessions similar to those granted to Sandals Resort International last year.
The confirmation came after numerous calls from industry officials over the past few months to grant concessions to local hoteliers to create “a level playing field”.
Giving the feature address at the first Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) quarterly breakfast meeting for this year, Layne promised that he would soon be reporting back to the BHTA on the progress of the promised concessions.
He was quick to point out, however, that there would have to be changes to the Tourism Development Act, which was ongoing, adding that the industry also needed to raise its standards.
Reiterating that the industry will be treated as an export, Layne told the stakeholders at the Hilton hotel, despite the delay it was good news that should be welcomed.
“Duty free concessions on food and beverage for the hotel sector and an amendment to the Tourism Development Act that would allow the industry the flexibility to include additional items as the need arises to ensure competitiveness. This is what we have been discussing with the industry,” said Layne.
“I am pleased to say that in the age of the Internet that the pleas of the president have been answered or her call for action. As of right now the Government of Barbados has agreed, and I am empowered to say this, to these concessions to be given to the hotel sector,” announced Layne,
He said officials would be meeting with the chief parliamentary counsel over the coming days as they continued to make changes to the legislation.
Layne said while he did not want to commit to the date when the concessions would be officially announced, it would definitely be made “in very short order”.
“I was asked this question not too long ago and my response was weeks. We are not talking years, we are not talking the year 2015, we are not talking the year 2016; we are talking the year 2014 and within weeks,” he promised.
He said, however, there was one requirement from players in the industry.
“I think you will all agree that the industry must meet international standards,” said Layne.
Adding that the sector was once able to maintain very high standards, Layne said the government was “going to insist that we get those standards back”.
He said it was critical to the industry’s survival.
“What we are saying essentially is that yes, you get the concessions to make yourself price competitive but at the same time you have to meet international standards because we are competing globally and that has to be understood. It is not a regional competition and it is not even a local competition,” said Layne.