The process of retrenchments at the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) is now complete.
Chairman Adrian Elcock today confirmed to Barbados TODAY that a total of 35 to 40 workers had either been sent home or had accepted voluntary separation packages since the cuts began back in March.
Among the first to go under phase one of the “efficiency” exercise were former CEO Urban Cumberbatch and former acting senior vice-president of marketing Averil Byer, whose relationship with the BTA came to an abrupt end, effective April 27.
Last Thursday, the BTA’s Director of Cruise Ryan Blackett and 19 others were also handed their walking papers, with a decision still pending on what is to be the future relationship of Campbell Rudder, the BTA’s vice president of Marketing in the United States, whose contract has expired and who is currently employed with the Authority on a month-to-month basis.
The remaining staff at both the Bridgetown and North American offices, which is said to number under 100, has been given until tomorrow to reply to formal offers of employment that have been issued for the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.(BTMI) – two new entities, which were legally established on August 2 to take over the operations and mandate of the BTA.
Elcock explained that “there are processes that we went through and some persons were successful in their interview process, some people were not. Others have voluntarily agreed that they are not going to continue into the new model of the organisation and in all the incarnations, we have carefully considered our way forward.”
“In cruise for example, we have looked at our strategy for cruise and we have determined that we need to look at our posture there from a more strategic point of view, and we will be having another executive recruitment coming out shortly, as early as this weekend, for a number of positions for the new BTMI for which the new head of cruise will be one of those positions,” he added.
The BTA chairman, who is himself preparing to leave the post, also pointed out that the process of retrenchment, which was done in two phases, took place in the full knowledge of the Barbados Workers Union, adding that,“in our process with the Union we made a commitment that no person would be disadvantaged in the process and we are happy that we have been able to achieve that, and we expect that we will have a positive response to those offers that have been issued”.
He also said it was likely to result in cost savings for the Government, even though new staffers would have to be added as part of a “bold” new approach going forward.
However, one severed worker, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity, said “the BTA has become a horrible place to be”, adding that “I have comfort with the decision and look forward to a new chapter.”
On the flip side of the restructuring, a new Chief Executive Officer of the BTMI, which will take charge of most of the BTA’s marketing mandate, has already been identified and is due to be in place by October.
In the meantime, Petra Roach, who is currently the interim president of the BTA, but who Elcock said did not want to be considered for the top job in the BTMI, will serve as temporary head of the new entity, where her substantive role would be that of a senior executive.
Elcock further disclosed that “an all Barbadian executive team” had also been identified and once offers were accepted, the names would be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
“We have found through our processes, an all Barbadian executive team and I am very proud of that. I think that it speaks volumes that there are Barbadians serving here and abroad who are ably qualified and it was very instructive that when we engaged Catalyst Consulting to do the head hunt that they were able to find some very solid people from around the world and we feel very comfortable that the people we have identified are more than able to continue their patriotism here in Barbados and support the marketing of Barbados to the world,” the BTA chairman said.
He however reported that the search for a product head did not bear fruit and that the position now had to be re-advertised. In the interim, an official of the Ministry of Tourism will look after those responsibilities.