It is still to receive promised concessions from Government, but the local hotel sector is said to be living up to its side of the bargain, in terms of an agreement to purchase produce from the local agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
However, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), James Paul, would still like to see the hotel sector doing more in terms of purchasing local produce.
“. . . we have to determine whether or not they are buying enough, [but] I can tell you that Sandals and other hotels do put in orders on a weekly basis with the BAS for certain produce,” Paul told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
The farmers’ spokesman also said he was generally satisfied that local farmers were meeting the present demand of the hotels.
“I do not get the impression that there is any concern among hoteliers that they cannot get produce. The stage has not been reached yet where the produce is not available on the local market. That applies to pork and milk also.
“However, I think we need to have a more collaborative relationship between the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and the BAS,” he said. We must sit and discuss these things,” Paul added.
Referring to recent comments attributed to the President of the BHTA, Sunil Chatrani, Paul, who is an elected member of the ruling Freundel Stuart administration, said he was not convinced that going to the media and complaining about Government’s tardiness in granting concessions across the sector did either of the parties any good.
However, arguing that imports should not be allowed to cause any damage to the local agricultural and manufacturing sectors, he stressed the need for a monitoring mechanism to be put in place.
“I think that the BHTA should live by the spirit of the agreement we have struck. I am not aware that any hotel is going to be closed because they cannot get produce,” said Paul, pointing out, “We just experienced a very good [first quarter] tourism season”.
Taking an unbiased approach to the issue, he also cautioned farmers that they needed to show more consistency in the production and quality of the produce sold to the hotel sector.
Making a plea for the sharing of information between the BHTA and BAS, Paul argued that such information would eliminate gluts, as well as shortages in the vital sector.