An Opposition senator is alleging that the Tourism Development Act is being amended solely because of the outcry in relation to the generous concessions given to the Sandals hotel chain.
Wilfred Abrahams also argued today that giving these tax breaks to the hotel industry would hurt the restaurant sector.
The attorney-at-law levelled the charges in the Senate.
“If we want to be competitive, when we look to amend our Tourism Development Act we should look not only at the hotel industry, we should look at our tourism product. The hotel is but one aspect of our tourism product. Government has admitted that Barbados’ price point is high. Visitors do not feel that they are getting quality for their money. It applies equally to restaurants,” the attorney-at-law said.
“My concern under the amendment is that where a hotel has a restaurant in it, that restaurant automatically qualifies for the concessions. That restaurant will be allowed to bring in all of its products duty-free. Now we have a situation in Barbados where all of the hotels compete with the restaurants. The restaurants at hotels are open to the public . . . .
“So imagine what happens when the restaurant in the hotel gets to bring all their inputs duty-free. The ordinary restaurant cannot possibly compete. So we may have a situation where the restaurant at a hotel is able to deliver a product a third of the cost of one at a restaurant,” he added, arguing that the playing field was not level.
The Opposition Senator predicted that the amendment to the Tourism Development Act would precipitate a crash in the restaurants in the tourism sector.