Local hotel properties are preparing to invest more than $40 million back into the sector.
The Board of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) said in a statement issued today that a number of its members would be undertaking significant refurbishments, and this will be facilitated by the long-awaited concessions being granted by Government.
“The concessions will allow us to generate more cash flow and put more of us in a better position to raise the quality of our product to the level it should be, which will go along way in increasing the number of visitors we can attract to Barbados, which will benefit the entire country as a whole,” the board explained.
On Wednesday, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced tens of thousands of dollars in tax breaks for the sector, but with certain conditions such as the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the BHTA, the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA).
The BHTA board thanked Government for the concessions, saying it is “welcomed news for our members as it will now give us the platform to reinvest in our product with much needed upgrades”.
“It also puts us in a better position to be more competitive and to better market our product and the island. Our competitors are already getting ahead of us and if we don’t reinvest and improve our product, we will continue to lose market share as has been the case in recent times.”
On the issue of the MOU, the board maintains that its membership has always worked, and will continue to work with both the BAS and BMA.
“The BHTA has always been committed to supporting our local farmers and manufactures and so, even though the MOU is not a prerequisite for accessing the concessions, we will continue, as stated at the meeting on Wednesday, to work at reaching a mutual agreement beneficial to all involved, as we see this as another avenue to further cement our present relationship in which our members currently support and work with numerous local farmers,” the group said.
“At peak, our members can only utilise approximately five (5) per cent of all local produce and, as we have repeatedly stated, our chefs prefer theirs to be fresh. Therefore, as an Association, we purchase a significant amount of our required produce locally.
“We are happy to also note that we are presently working on an IDB funded Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) pilot project, which sees further collaboration between several hotels and local farmers. The four (4) year project, designed to enhance linkages between Small and Medium sized Enterprises SMEs and the hotel sector, with special emphasis on farmers and small to medium agro-producers, aims to enhance and grow the number of farmers that can work directly with the sector. The project will also develop a framework to provide a revolving fund to assist the cash flow for farmers, allowing them to be paid in a short period of time,” the BHTA added.