Minister of Industry Donville Inniss today issued a strong warning to hoteliers who are set to receive significant concessions from Government.
He informed them that they would be carefully watched to ensure they effectively utilize the arrangement.
“The state cannot forego this level of revenue and not expect that, on the other hand, hoteliers pull their weight and invest . . . . Let me say they will be carefully watched,” Minister Inniss cautioned this afternoon during debate in Parliament on amendments to the.Tourism Development Act
“We cannot say to a hotelier ‘you get these duty-free concessions and then you decide that the extra money you’re making now that you’re going to buy a ranch in Argentina or a villa somewhere in Spain’. It is not going to happen. We expect that you would make the level of investment back into your plant and equipment, hire additional Barbadians wherever possible and certainly help to make a more meaningful contribution to the marketing of Barbados as a destination.”
He said that the concessions for local properties were not expected to result in increased room rates but should improve the product offering to visitors.
Inniss went on to defend the wide-ranging concessions granted to the Sandals Group – tax breaks that had sparked complaints from owners of local properties who said they created an uneven playing field. Government subsequently agreed to give indigenous hoteliers similar incentives.
Inniss insisted that Barbados had already seen tremendous foreign direct investment in the tourism sector as a result of the Sandals concessions.
“I hope that the other hoteliers in this country who are about to get the similar benefits in terms of duty-free concessions are able, in short order, to make the level of investment in their own plant and equipment that will bring it up to international standards,” the Minister said.
He also had high praise for representatives of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, the Barbados Agricultural Society, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and the Intimate Hotels of Barbados which all signed an MOU earlier this month that paved the way for the purchase of local produce and products.
“Nobody was asking for a handout . . . . They [the groups] simply said the Government is offering these concessions to the hotel sector and therefore they want the opportunity to be given the chance to compete with whatever is coming in here,” Inniss added.
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