Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Irene Sandiford-Garner today expressed sharp criticism of local tourism businesses, accusing them of lacking innovation.
Speaking in the Senate on the Appropriations Bill 2016, Sandiford-Garner complained that the private sector was not doing enough to extract maximum benefits from tourism.
She pointed to record arrival numbers last year and made it clear that while Government can attract the visitors, it was up to the private sector to ensure the tourists spend as much as possible.
“We can bring the people here but we can’t take the money out of their pockets. There has to be some incentive for those persons to spend in Barbados. The private sector of this country needs to get on board, they need to move out of their comfort zones and enter the world of 21st century business,” she told fellow legislators.
Tourist arrivals to Barbados grew by 13.9 per cent last year when compared with 2014, well over the Caribbean’s growth rate of seven per cent. During this period over 591,000 tourists visited the island.
The parliamentary secretary said these figures emphasized the need for the private sector to create the attractions that would encourage spending.
“When will the private sector understand that the more the visitor spends the more it benefits the country [and that] increased passenger spend is a vital economic benefit to this island?
“There is no real high-end nightclub in this country for those who come here and would want to party,” she stressed, recalling that the situation was different in the 1970s and 1980s.
“We had a night life [then], we don’t have it now. And there is nobody seeking to take advantage of the stay over [cruise visitors] because we are home porting at a considerable level now, or even bringing Pelican Village coming alive when the nights come.”
Sandiford-Garner insisted that Government ought not insert itself into these areas of private enterprise and appealed to private businesses to step forward. (GA)